As broad markets continue to consolidate and large-cap technology stocks encounter their first periods of correction and consolidation in years, the small-cap biotech space has begun to spur some new interest, and some powerful opportunities have popped up on the radar.
Today, we’re going to run through a few interesting examples, including Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN), Innovest Global, Inc. (OTCMKTS:IVST), and Xencor Inc (NASDAQ:XNCR).
Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN) trades at a current market cap value of $1.06B. The company has a significant store of cash ($19.4M) on the books, which compares with about $4.9M in total current liabilities. The company is pulling in trailing 12-month revenues of $880K on solid top-line growth, with y/y quarterly revenues growing at 19.5%.
The drama right now for GERN is going to be all about how Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) responds in coming days and weeks on whether or not it will be continuing its involvement in the JNJ/GERN development partnership to advance imetelstat to market.
The company supports the clinical stage development of imetelstat, a telomerase inhibitor for the treatment of hematologic myeloid malignancies. It has collaboration and license agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. to develop and commercialize imetelstat worldwide for indications in oncology, including hematologic myeloid malignancies and other human therapeutic uses.
IMerge is a two-part clinical trial evaluating imetelstat in transfusion dependent patients with Low or Intermediate-1 risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) who have relapsed after or are refractory to prior treatment with an erythropoiesis stimulating agent, or ESA.
The primary efficacy endpoint is the rate of red blood cell transfusion independence lasting at least 8 weeks. Part 1 is a Phase 2, open-label, single-arm trial of imetelstat, and Part 2 is designed to be a Phase 3, randomized, controlled trial. Part 2 has not yet begun.
Shares have been pushing higher as traders and investors speculate that the JNJ decision will go favorably based on a job posting at JNJ for a pricing manager for imetelstat that appeared two weeks ago.
Innovest Global, Inc. (OTCMKTS:IVST) is actually in a slightly different position than the other names on this list. This stock is actually a conglomerate, which means they have their fingers on lots of different buttons and not just the biotech space.
That said, the company did just announce that it will be attending two conferences this fall to advance the objectives of StemVax Therapeutics, and to explore additional Biotech opportunities.
“With the recently announced patent approval, and obtaining exclusive worldwide rights to the technology, we believe that now is the time to collaborate with other scientists that have technologies which serve Innovest’s mission and could benefit from the relationship,” said Dr. Dwain Morris-Irvin, Division President and the StemVax founder.
The comment referencing the patent approval was related to the acquisition of a twenty percent stake in StemVax Therapeutics, and with the news that the primary technology for the StemVax brain tumor vaccine had been granted patent approval after a nine year filing process. Immediately following this news, StemVax was granted exclusive worldwide rights from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to this patent and three other technologies it will now use in its efforts to commercialize the vaccine.
Shares of the company has been holding within a bullish range above the 200-day simple moving average over the past 6 months, with $0.20/share now acting as primary support in a base that may form some potential for a new run to the March highs as the stock finds new bids amid a set of strong catalysts.
Xencor Inc (NASDAQ:XNCR) bills itself as a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery and development of engineered monoclonal antibody therapeutics to treat severe and life threatening diseases with unmet medical needs. It develops its antibody product candidates to treat autoimmune and allergic diseases, cancer, and other conditions.
Shares have been pushing toward a potential breakout above recent range resistance this week as investors react to stepped-up commentary about coming topline data on key pipeline assets. In other words, the pipeline is driving this story, not the current financials.
The company’s product candidates include XmAb5871, an immune inhibitor, which is in Phase II clinical trial for the treatment of autoimmune diseases; and XmAb7195, an immune inhibitor that has been completed Phase I clinical trial for asthma and allergic diseases.
Its product candidates also comprise XmAb14045, a bispecific oncology candidate, which is in Phase I clinical trial for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia; XmAb13676 that is in Phase I clinical trial to treat B-cell malignancies; and XmAb18087, which is in Phase I clinical trial for neuroendocrine tumors and gastrointestinal stromal tumors.
In addition, the company offers MOR208, an antibody drug, that in Phase III clinical trial to treat non-Hodgkin lymphomas, as well as in Phase II clinical trial for chronic lymphocytic leukemia; and AMG424, a bispecific CD38 x CD3 preclinical candidate for various myeloma. Further, it is developing bispecific antibodies to treat various cancers, such as XmAb20717, XmAb22841, and XmAb23104, which are in preclinical Phase.
The company has collaboration and license agreement with Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc. to develop and commercialize bispecific and other Fc engineered antibody drug candidates using its proprietary XmAb technologies and drug candidates, as well as MorphoSys Ag to develop and commercialize bispecific antibody product candidates; license agreement with Amgen Inc. to develop and commercialize bispecific antibody product candidates; and development and manufacturing services agreement with Catalent Pharma Solutions LLC.