Each June, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) hosts its annual meeting - an event that's attended by 30,000 people and the scene of 4,000 presentations.
And each May, just ahead of this crucial gathering, a select group of oncology stocks takes investors on a pretty wild ride - almost like clockwork.
That's the "ASCO Effect."
The catalyst for this big run-up - in which some stocks double, triple or quadruple in price (or more) - is well-known. A few weeks ahead of the meeting, ASCO posts drug-research abstracts of some of the presenting companies on its Website; investors look at the clinical-trial results contained in the abstracts, and key on the most-promising players - igniting share rallies so torrid that they're remembered for years.
This year's ASCO annual meeting is scheduled for June 1-5 in Chicago.
But, according to the latest reports we've seen, the abstracts are due out at 6 p.m. (EDT) today (Wednesday).
If that deadline is met, you can bet that investors will be scouring those abstracts all night.
If you want an example of the ASCO Effect in action, just look at what happened with OXiGENE Inc. (Nasdaq: OXGN) shares just 12 months ago. As May opened last year, OXiGENE was a relatively unremarkable biotech stock. Indeed, the company was juggling a lot of problems.
OXiGENE faced questions about its management turnover and its cash position. Shareholders were worried about its cancer-drug pipeline. And the stock was trading at less than $2 a share.
In fact, OXiGENE shares had been one of the biotech sector's worst performers in 2010, and the company had to endure the ignominy of a reverse stock split in February 2011.
Then came the ASCO Effect.