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Of Biotech Love, Cold ICE, Parking Wars and Pricey Digs

Columnist: Bill Meagher
April, 2019 Issue

Bill Meagher
All articles by columnist

A recent report suggests that orphan disease specialist BioMarin isn’t hurting for company.
According to Morningstar Research, BioMarin may have suitors that include Pfizer, Merck and Johnson & Johnson as the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors brace for a wave of mergers. Other possible merger partners include Gilead, AbbVie and Roche. Morningstar, a Wall Street-based research house, says Novato-based BioMarin’s stock is undervalued and it’s drug portfolio is “focused.”

Orphan drugs refer to a designation from the Food and Drug Administration that allows candidates carrying the status to priority reviews, certain tax advantages and most importantly a seven-year market exclusivity for an approved drug. The program was founded to encourage companies to chase treatments for conditions or diseases with patient populations under 200,000. The exclusivity is designed to help companies recover high research and development costs. Morningstar is quite taken with BioMarin’s possibilities which includes “explosive growth potential in hemophilia and ultra-orphan disease.” The report pegs the company’s sales as having a potential compound annual growth rate of 19.3 percent, the kind of number that makes hedge fund manager reach for a lunch bag to breath into.

ICE storm

Marin’s Rustic Bakery is known for its sweet pastries, but moves by federal immigration officials have left a sour taste in the company’s four cafes. An audit by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has put Rustic on the spot. The company has been hit with layoffs since ICE did an audit of its hiring documents last summer and while the bakery ’s paperwork was in order, some of the documents presented by its employees did not meet the regulator’s standards.

“As a result of the I-9 audit, and at the risk of federal prosecution, jail time and/or penalties, Rustic Bakery was given the ultimatum to terminate any employee unable to provide corrected documentation,” reads a statement on the bakery’s website. So Rustic was forced to let some of its staff go and had to limit its menu while hiring and training new employees. Staff members who were let go were paid severance and are eligible to return to work if the documentation issues could be cleared up. As the issue of a ginned-up immigration emergency at the southern border stumbles through our courts, and Twitter storms rain down from the White House, it’s worth noting that the broken immigration system has a gut-wrenching cost in our own backyard.

No parking

Fairfax business owners and residents are scrambling to find parking in the downtown area as the town closed up the 74-space Parkade for a reconstruction project. Merchants complained the town didn’t receive enough notice after the town council awarded a $676,726 contract to Maggiora and Ghilotti of San Rafael. But city officials say that if the Parkade project didn’t move quickly, the work would have to be pushed off as Maggiora moved on to other projects. The project was slated to last two months and includes new curb ramps, a new stairway and path as well as stormwater runoff treatments and three new parking spaces that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Your Marin moment

“Offered for your consideration: 4,000 square feet of mid-century modern home with a political pedigree, land and views of San Francisco as well as the Sleeping Lady (Mt. Tam) for the bargain price of just $6 million. You have now entered the Marin Real Estate Zone.” What is more ubiquitous than the business of residential real estate in Marin? The above homage to Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone is of course pointing to the sale of Governor Gavin Newsom’s digs in Kentfield. Newsom has vamoosed for Fair Oaks, a suburb about 15 miles from Sactown. Essentially Newsom and his family are forsaking the rainfall capital of Marin for the city where a hoop squad called the Kings are actual royalty.

The magazine business being what it is, with a lag time of six weeks, this gem may be off the market by the time these words are eaten by your brain. But if it’s still out there, the 5-bedroom spread built in 1950 includes plenty of light, hardwood floors, a soaking tub and a dry sauna. And should a skirmish break out, the property has olive trees—so a branch may be extended. As to the numbers, Newsom purchased the house for $2.2 million in 2011, so he is looking for a healthy return on investment. It remains to be seen if that philosophy will help him as he tackles future state budgets.

Bill Meagher is a Senior Editor with The Deal, an online institutional financial news outlet headquartered in New York. He covers small cap finance, the SEC, alternative investment and the occasional investigative story. He joins other San Francisco Giants fans in watching the lads roll into a new season, the last with skipper Bruce Bochy in the dugout.




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