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Kromek has received a material order from DARPA to further develop a biopathogen detector totalling $5.2m. This is an incremental market opportunity for the company and the majority of the contracted value is likely to be recognised in the company’s new fiscal period to April 2021.
Companies: Kromek Group
Many of the world’s best and most important products (eg Space exploration, nuclear medicine/power & the internet) were originally invented by the military. It’s happened again – but this time to combat airborne pathogens like Ebola, SARS/MERS and all manner of other biological nasties doing the rounds. You see on 10th December 2018, Kromek was awarded a $2.0m contract by DARPA (research arm of US Dept. of Defense) to develop a vehicle-mounted bio-threat detector. The idea being that this should be able to rapidly identify (within 1 hour) any dangerous germ that might have been released into the environment, say by terrorist groups, organised criminals &/or rogue states.
Open Orphan, a niche Contract Research Organisation (CRO) and world leader in testing the efficacy of vaccines and antivirals, raised £12.6m (gross) to fund development of the world’s first COVID-19 challenge model. Compared with traditional trials, challenge studies can fast-track testing of vaccines and antivirals, with reduced costs and fewer volunteers. The company is in active discussions with 12 global vaccine manufacturers with regards such a challenge model. Given the paucity of lab testing capability in the UK, Open Orphan is exploiting its in-house virology lab to offer third-party services and commercialise a lab-based COVID-19 antibody test, for which it has UK exclusivity from Quotient. We initiate coverage with a target price of 19p, based on a sum-of-the parts analysis.
Companies: Open Orphan
FY results showed an adjusted net loss of £3.8m, with year-end cash of £2.5m – in line with the trading update at the time of the recent £14m placing. Near-term focus remains on the outcome of study SG016, and although the enrolment rate into the COVID-19 trial has slowed in recent weeks, with 98 out of the targeted 100 patients having been enrolled, top-line data is expected to be presented in July. The company also confirmed that the trial of SNG001 in COVID-19 patients within the home setting and to be conducted virtually has commenced. Additionally, MHRA gave approval to run an interim analysis (109 out of targeted 120 patients) without compromising the integrity of the COPD Phase II trial, with data expected to be presented in the summer: a busy summer, with two potential value inflection points. We reiterate a target price of 120p, of which c.80p relates to the use of SNG001 in COVID-19 disease, with the prospect of this being increased on successful Phase II outcomes for both COPD and COVID-19.
The potential of cell therapies is starting to become clear, and MaxCyte’s technology lies at the heart of many of these next-generation treatments. The pivotal role its platform plays is shown by ten major partnership agreements formed with leading cell therapy players over the past 18 months. These can earn pre-commercialisation milestones in excess of $800m, transforming MaxCyte’s medium- and longer-term revenues as the underlying programmes advance through clinical development. CARMA, MaxCyte’s proprietary cell therapy platform, is nearing a key inflection point, with Phase I data from its lead asset due in 2020. Management is targeting CARMA to be self-financing by 2021. We raise our valuation to £260m (340p/share), from £195m and 341p, with the core business alone valued at £158m (206p/share).
Avacta is leveraging the antibody-like properties of Affimers for Therapeutic and Diagnostic applications across multi-billion dollar markets, including testing and treatment for COVID-19, building a differentiated pipeline and global partnerships. The near-term key is the roll out of its SARS COV-2 antigen tests, including potentially one of the first Point-of-Care tests to-market, offering game-changing commercial scope, sufficient to significantly accelerate the clinical development of its Therapeutic pipeline.
Companies: Avacta Group
LiDCO’s AGM statement makes for pleasing reading. Whilst the exceptional conditions in Q1 have abated somewhat, Q2 is seeing signs of a return to normality as hospitals start to prepare for the return of elective surgeries. Sales orders in May have been consistent with last year and, whilst the situation remains fluid, we take that as an encouraging sign for the rest of the year. With £4.4m of revenues booked in Q1 and recurring revenues expected to continue at the FY20 exit run rate level, we have sufficient confidence in the outlook to upgrade our revenue forecasts for the year by £0.4m and EBITDA/FCF by £0.3m. Postupgrades, the shares trade on a Yr1 EV/Sales of just 2.1x. With scope for further upgrades and the company at an inflection point in sustainable profitability, we view this as exceptionally attractive.
Companies: Lidco Group
Synairgen (SNG.L): Preliminary 2019 results | Yourgene Health (YGEN.L): COVID-19 testing service launch and business update
Companies: Synairgen Yourgene Health
Much has been written about the effects of the virus on the world and on the stock market. Here is one analyst’s take on some of the likely impacts on the way we should look at companies. This article was originally produced as a blog, “10 Changes Post Virus”, which was published a few weeks ago.
Companies: AGY ARBB ARIX DNL GDR NSF PCA PIN PHNX PHP RE/ RECI STX SCE SIXH TRX SHED VTA
4D pharma has announced its FY’19 results for the period ending 31 December 2019. Results are in-line with our expectations, although the reported cash position of £3.8m does not reflect the Group’s current position because since period-end 4D pharma has completed a £22m equity fundraising. Cash runaway is now indicated until the end of Q4 2020 on current activity levels. This takes them through key potentially value-adding readouts expected in 2020, including full results from the Phase II programme of Blautix in IBS in Q3 2020, and additional oncology data for MRx0518 from the now completed Part A of the Phase I/II study in Q3 2020 and two ongoing Phase I biomarker studies in H2 2020. Management also flagged that the ongoing recruitment into the Phase I/II asthma trial has been impacted due to Covid-19, although this is somewhat offset by the initiation of the Phase II trial in hospitalised Covid-19 patients. 4D pharma continues to seek a partner for this Covid-19 programme and recently published a presentation supporting the scientific rationale for MRx-4DP0004’s use in Covid-19 hospitalised patients. The MSD collaboration continues to progress well and management are actively pursuing additional research collaborations that could create additional value for shareholders. Year-to-date the Group has made excellent progress progressing its clinical pipeline, and we look forward to these key potentially value-creating readouts later in 2020.
Companies: 4D Pharma
We are initiating coverage on specialist pharmaceutical services provider Ergomed. We believe it should prove relatively resilient during the COVID-19 crisis and has the fundamentals in place to execute its growth strategy. Ergomed announced impressive audited numbers for FY19, with revenue up 26% to £68.3m and EBITDA up 5.5x to £12.5m. The FY19 announcement is effectively Ergomed’s fourth profit upgrade for FY19 and a small beat on recently reset FY19 expectations. Ergomed trades at a discounted EV/EBITDA of 10.1x vs the contract research outsourcing (CRO) sector average of 11.5x (FY20). We value Ergomed at £186m or 399p/share. Ergomed’s strong organic growth is benefiting from a clear strategic focus on high growth pharma sectors, margin control and order book growth (up 15% to £125m in FY19, giving 90% visibility to 2020).
Following on from the Primestore MTM orders announced in April, EKF has received further orders worth $9.4m to be fulfilled between now and the end of July. This results in further upgrades to our already upgraded estimates, by 34% at the PBT/EPS level in FY20, with scope for further upgrades as and when additional orders are received. The Primestore device is proving its worth during the current Covid-19 pandemic. It deactivates viruses, bacteria, fungi and mycobacterium tuberculosis allowing safe sample handling and transport, greatly reducing risk of infection and enables samples to be transported at ambient temperatures, simplifying the significant logistical burden involved in transporting millions of samples. It is also worth reiterating that the sample collection device is agnostic as to which test is carried out on the patient sample, making this something of a picks and shovels play on the current environment. In addition to these US orders, EKF has now commissioned its facility in Wales and shipped its first product into the UK market this week. It has also begun the process to start manufacturing in Germany and will bring additional capacity on stream in the US in the near future. All of this is yet to be factored into estimates and represents additional potential sources of upgrades in due course. We continue to believe EKF is exceptionally well positioned in the current environment and is forming a crucial part of the supply chain required to significantly increase diagnostic testing capacity globally. EKF remains one of our Best Ideas for 2020, supported by a positive short and medium term outlook, strong fundamentals and a track record of meeting and beating expectations.
Companies: EKF Diagnostics Holding
Physiomics, the oncology consultancy using mathematical models and its Virtual Tumour™ technology to support the development of cancer treatment regimens and personalised medicine solutions, has today announced the completion of an £0.83m over-subscribed fundraise at 3.5p. This includes Director participation and the arrival of the Company’s first small-cap institutional fund onto the register.
Surgical Innovations has provided some useful context to the current trading environment. Whilst revenues are significantly down in Q2 so far, they are perhaps not down to the levels initially expected and there are some encouraging if tentative signs of life as hospitals prepare to recommence elective surgeries. The group’s cash position has increased to £1.65m (from £1.28m at the Y/E) and, with an undrawn £0.5m RCF and a new £1.5m CBILS facility, the group has £3.65m of available liquidity. This should be sufficient to cover its operational requirements for several months and to fund working capital as and when activity begins to pick up. Prior to the Covid-19 shutdown, momentum had been building in terms of market share gains, with new account wins in the UK and new distributor markets opening up globally. The company’s resposable model is ideally suited to the increased focus on sustainability, particularly reducing the use of single use plastics. With a number of new products expected to launch progressively over the next few years, we believe the company has bright prospects, once the short term challenge around Covid-19 has been navigated.
Companies: Surgical Innovations Group
SkinBioTherapeutics (SBTX; the Group) is a microbiome specialist focused on the development of microbiome-based technologies for skin health. Since IPO on AIM in 2017, the Company has made significant progress into the commercialisation of SkinBiotix®, the Group’s proprietary probiotic cosmetic technology. In November 2019, SBTX struck a commercial deal with the multinational specialty chemicals group, Croda plc (CRDA.L). Croda intends to develop a cosmetic ingredient based on SkinBiotix® technology with SBTX to receive tiered-royalties on any product developed as part of the agreement. This agreement marks the Group’s first commercial deal for SkinBiotix® and is both a validation of the Group’s commercial strategy and of the underlying science and data generated on the technology over the past two years. Alongside the cosmetic segment, SBTX plans to rollout multiple microbiome products in a stepwise approach whereby, along with a new product offering, each ‘step’ offers a de-risking event for the next level, either through a clinical trial or a partnership agreement. This strategy enables SBTX to diversify the product offering whilst de-risking any future developments.