Codexis Inc., the U.S. biotechnology company, had a record decline after Chief Executive Officer Alan Shaw departed and analysts downgraded its shares.
Codexis, which develops enzymes used in the production of biofuels, biochemicals and pharmaceuticals, declined 19 percent to $3.70 at the close in New York, the most since it began trading on April 22, 2010.
Shaw, who was president of the company since it was founded, will leave “to pursue other interests,” the Redwood City, California-based company said in a Feb. 17 statement. Peter Strumph, 47, senior vice president and business head of pharmaceuticals, was appointed interim CEO.
“Alan, in consultation with the board, decided that it was in the best interest of the company to turn over the reins at this time,” Wes Bolsen, chief marketing officer, said today by telephone. “The board decided that now was the best time to put in the leadership team that it’s going to take to move Codexis forward,”
Shaw will continue to serve as a special adviser to the board. His resignation follows the departure of Chief Financial Officer Robert Lawson, who left the company Jan. 24.
Lawson “chose to take another opportunity in the software industry, which is where he came from,” Bolsen said.
Michael Klein, a New York-based analyst with Sidoti & Co., downgraded the shares today to “neutral” from “buy” with a target price of $4. Codexis was also downgraded to “underweight” from “neutral” by Michael Cox, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York.
Codexis is working with a venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Brazil’s Cosan SA Industria & Comercio on improved yeast strains to boost the output of mills that turn sugar cane into ethanol, technology it said in September it plans to sell at the end of this year.
The company also introduced new enzymes last year for converting biomass into sugars that can be used to make detergent alcohols it’s developing with Chemtex Inc.
“To what extent are these initiatives going to play out and what’s the timeline around when they play out?” Klein said. “That’s the uncertainty right now weighing on the stock.”