High-riding Biospherics stock takes steep drop Beltsville firm's stock takes $11 drop.

April 16, 1991|By Michelle Singletary | Michelle Singletary,Evening Sun Staff

The stock price for Biospherics Inc. took a roller coaster ride to an all-time high of $29.

But that was last week. This week the company's stock has come down, and fast.

Yesterday the stock closed at $12.25, down $11. The stock, traded over the counter, had been as low as $1.50 in 1990 and as high as $5.62 1/2 .

Biospherics, based in Beltsville, provides a broad range o environmental, health and information products and services to governmental agencies and private industry.

Karen Levin, head of the company's information servicedivision, said the turbulent ride the stock price has taken in just six days is surprising.

After all, the company had announced a month ago that it received approval for a patent on an economical method for producing a low-calorie sugar substitute called D-tagatose and would be seeking approval to market the product from the Food and Drug Administration.

Nine days ago, the patents column in the New York Times mentioned the announcement and that sparked interest in Biospherics' stock, said Levin, whose husband, Gilbert V. Levin, is president of the company.

"We put out releases in March and nobody, and I mean N-O-B-O-D-Y picked up on it," Levin said yesterday. "The New York Times article triggered an explosion."

On April 5th, Biospherics stock closed at $4. The following Monday, after the article had appeared, the stock soared to $7.25. By the end of the week the company's stock had traded as high as $29 and as low as $4.50.

Even Levin decided to take advantage of the stock's rise. Levin said she sold some stock at about $5 and some at $9. She and her husband owned 52 percent of the 3.9 million shares outstanding.

A report Saturday in Barron's Business and Financial Weekly noted that the stock volume rose as well. The publication noted that the week before, a day's trading in Biospherics ranged from 500 to 3,300 shares. By Friday, trading reached 877,200. In all of 1990, about 600,000 shares were traded.

In NASDAQ trading yesterday, 1,572,600 shares of Biospherics stock changed hands.

But the Barron's report might quell the feverish trading.

"Biospherics, under the best of circumstances, is several years away from even submitting its data on D-tagatose to the FDA," the article said. "For all we know every little boy and girl on the face of the earth will have a sweet tooth for D-tagatose. And maybe, for all we know, there is life on Mars."

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