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Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) – BIDDING PADDLES READY

Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) – BIDDING PADDLES READY by Caleb Gibbons, CFA, FRM,– Originally at IBankCoin. Reposted with permission

Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc., waiting until almost midnight, the Friday before the Memorial Day long weekend, 5/27/16, announced the FDA approved Ocaliva (Obeticholic Acid) for the treatment of the liver disease PBC (primary biliary cholangitis), formerly known as primary biliary cirrhosis. Approval was largely expected (the FDA Advisory Committee had previously voted 17-0 in favour), but the good news appears to be that the conditions attached to the approval are modest. Safety concerns had some worried that sales could be hampered by restrictions on use in patients with moderate or severe hepactic impairment, but the prescription label has no such restrictions from my reading of it (link for your perusal): ocaliva_pi

PBC is a rare, autoimmune cholestatic liver disease that puts patients at risk for life-threatening complications. PBC is primarily a disease of women, afflicting approximately one in 1,000 women over the age of 40.

Sales of OCA will begin In 7-10 days and expectations are that peak sales could reach $2.6 billion per annum. $ICPT closed Friday at $141.77 with a market cap of $3.5bln. With a typical valuation of 7x sales, clearly there is scope for a rally from here. ICPT’s float is small at 17.44mm shares and 3.4mm shares (19.5%) are held short. 78.5% of the shares are held by institutions. Fidelity Investments is the largest holder with almost 15%. The lifetime high for the stock was $462.26, which will not likely be eclipsed until OCA for NASH is approved in early 2019 (which obviously depends of the results of the 2,000+ patient Phase III  global trial).

Intercept Pharmaceuticals – another scenario

Another likely scenario is an approach from a larger player seeking a blockbuster drug to add to their stable. With OCA approved for PBC there is now a risk buffer to await the 2018 outcome of the phase 3 “Regenerate” trial for OCA in the treatment of NASH. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a significant metabolic form of chronic liver disease in adults and children effects a much larger percentage of the population that PBC. The OCA dosage for the treatment of PBC are 5-10mg whereas for NASH the trial is being conducted at dosages of 10 and 25mg. There are currently no drugs approved for the treatment of NASH and OCA for PBC is the first liver drug approval granted in the last 20 years. PBC & NASH are distinct, progressive liver diseases. Both diseases may lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. From a valuation perspective most would argue 20% to the PBC application of OCA and 80% to the much larger NASH opportunity.

XBI the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF is -26% ytd in 2016. ICPT is the 4th biggest holding in the ETF at 2.6%.

What lies ahead:

Next week analysts will be tweaking their ICPT numbers based on the terms of the OCA for PBC approval. Most recently MS moved to underweight with a price target of $80. Stingy indeed when ICPT have > $22 a share in cash on their balance sheet! Merrill Lynch have an underperform on the stock and a $144 target. ML used to be the biggest bull on ICPT, with a target > $800 per share when Rachel McMinn Ph. D covered them, before joining Intercept Pharma as Chief Business & Strategy Officer in April 2014.

The street conjecture will also begin as to the timing of a bid and take-out premium likely on a bid for ICPT, now that a level of uncertainly has been removed. JCG

Disclosure: Long ICPT, 3% weighting, trailing stops, not inclined to sell < $200.\

Intercept Pharmaceuticals
Intercept Pharmaceuticals