Trade war fears are crushing stocks, and the their swan dive onto the rocks could keep going if Presidents Trump and China’s Xi Jinping keep tossing tariff grenades at each other. But despite the rise of trade escalation risks, seven health-sector IPOs were priced the past six trading days, sweeping up a total of $499 million as though equity investors view the industry as the ultimate hedge strategy.
Here’s the pricing action for the period of May 6 to May 14, 2019. (Current stock quotes are listed as of ~1:00pm EDT 05/14/2019)
- Health Sciences Acquisitions Corp., a blank check company formed by RTW Investments to acquire a biopharma or medical technology business, raised $100 million by offering 10 million units at $10, as expected. Each unit consists of one share of common stock and one warrant to purchase one-half of one share of common stock. NYC-based Health Sciences lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol “HSACU.” Chardan Capital Markets and UBS Investment Bank acted as lead managers on the deal. Although there is no restriction or limitation on what industry a target operates in, it is Health Sciences’ intention to “pursue prospective targets that are focused on healthcare innovation.” Shares were trading up 3.4% from their IPO price at $10.34.
- Elsewhere, Axcella Health Inc., which is developing amino acid-based therapies to treat liver and other diseases, raised $71 million by offering 3.6 million shares at $20, the low end of the range of $20 to $22. Axcella Health lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol “AXLA.” The Cambridge, MA-based company “AXA” candidates are generated from its proprietary, human-focused AXA development platform and harness the power of EMMs, a broad family of molecules that fundamentally impact and regulate human metabolism. Axcella Health was founded in 2008. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and SVB Leerink are the joint bookrunners on the deal. Shares were trading down 31% to $13.71. The poor performance could be due in part to Axcella’s more limited development thus far; it has yet to commence Phase 1 trials for AXA1665 and has no other drugs in active development beyond initial research.
- NextCure Inc., a clinical-stage biotech developing next-gen cancer immunotherapies, raised $75 million by offering 5 million shares at $15, the midpoint of the range of $14 to $16. Beltsville, MD-based, Eli Lilly-partnered NextCure has already raised $180 million in venture capital to go after PD-L1 negative tumors where existing checkpoint inhibitors are impotent. NextCure was founded in 2015 and lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol “NXTC.” Morgan Stanley, BofA Merrill Lynch and Piper Jaffray are the joint bookrunners on the deal. Shares were trading up 32% at $19.81.
- Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Phase 3 biotech developing therapies for heart rate conditions, raised $83 million by offering 5.5 million shares at $15, selling an additional 500,000 shares at the midpoint of the range of $14 to $16. The Montreal-based biopharmaceutical firm focuses its efforts on one compound, etripamil, a short-acting calcium channel blocker being developed as a nasal spray for the treatment a type of rapid heart rate called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT). Results from a Phase 2 study showed an 87% PSVT termination rate within 15 minutes at the dose selected for further development. A pivotal Phase 3 study is currently recruiting patients with topline data expected in H1 2020. Milestone was founded in 2003 and lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol “MIST.” Jefferies, Cowen and Piper Jaffray are the joint bookrunners on the deal. Shares were trading up 23% at $18.38.
- Cortexyme Inc., which is developing a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, raised $75 million after pricing its IPO of 4.412 million common shares at $17 apiece, the midpoint of the previously announced range. The South San Francisco, CA-based biopharmaceutical firm says a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) and its secreted gingipains (toxic virulence factor proteases) are present in 90% of the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, adding that P. gingivalis infection causes Alzheimer’s pathology in animal models. Lead candidate COR388 is a brain-penetrating small molecule gingipain inhibitor which has shown a favorable safety profile in early-stage studies. Cortexyme was founded in 2012 and lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol “CRTX.” BofA Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse are the joint bookrunners on the deal. Shares were trading up 47% at $25.00.
- Trevi Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of nalbuphine ER to treat serious neurologically mediated conditions, raised $55 million after pricing its IPO of 5.5 million shares at per share each. Trevi is currently developing nalbuphine ER for the treatment of chronic pruritus, chronic cough in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID) in patients with Parkinson’s disease. SVB Leerink, Stifel and BMO Capital Markets are acting as joint bookrunning managers for the offering and as placement agents for the concurrent private placement. Founded in 2011, Trevi Therapeutics is headquartered in New Haven, CT. Shares, which trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol “TRVI,” were trading down 18% at $8.22.
- And Applied Therapeutics Inc., a Phase 2 biotech developing therapies for diabetic complications, raised $40 million by offering 4 million shares at $10, well below the range of $14 to $16. Applied Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a pipeline of novel drug candidates against validated molecular targets in indications of high unmet medical need. The Tampa, FL-based company’s lead product candidate, AT-001, is a novel aldose reductase inhibitor (ARI) that is being developed for the treatment of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy, or DbCM, a fatal fibrosis of the heart. The company plans to initiate a Phase 2/3 pivotal study in DbCM in 2019. NYC-based Applied Therapeutics lists on the Nasdaq under the symbol “APLT.” Citi, Cowen and UBS Investment Bank acted as lead managers on the deal. Shares were trading down 10% at $9.04.