Did an iceberg just wallop into Conatus (CNAT) stock? This biotech company's shares plunged yesterday at breakneck speed of almost 70%. The reason? Conatus’ lead drug Emricasan failed a mid-stage trial in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-related decompensated cirrhosis.
Emricasan – an oral pan-caspase inhibitor that targets nonalcoholic steatohepatitis – has gone through several trials over the last three years. This recent phase 2b trial was conclusive enough for Conatus to forgo any further testing, after the trial clearly proved the drug is not an effective treatment.
Amidst uncertainty about Conatus’ strategic options, H.C. Wainwright analyst Ed Arce has removed his price target on CNAT stock, while maintaining a Neutral rating. (To watch Arce's track record, click here)
Conatus projects its cash and equivalents at the end of 2019 to be in the range of $10M to $15M. The company also announced that 40% of their staff were laid off after the failure and suspension of the 2b trial.
Arce believes that it is incredibly challenging to value the company during this period of cash preservation and strategic re-evaluation. With the termination of the development program for Emricasan, Conatus is currently focused on finding a strategic purchaser who sees value in the CTS-2090 compound used in Emricasan and the expertise of the remaining employees. With a market cap of $9.64M, it appears that the market is pricing in the possibility of bankruptcy, as the company is being valued below Conatus’ projections of end-of-year 2019 cash and equivalents.
Arce believes the main concern is that if the company cannot find a strategic acquirer before their cash runs dry, they are at seriously risk of going into bankruptcy.
TipRanks suggests caution roars loud on Wall Street for sell-side analysts sizing up the challenged drug maker's prospects. Out of 4 analysts polled in the last 12 months, all 4 are sidelined on CNAT stock. (See CNAT's price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)