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October 16th, 2023 | 06:50 CEST

Lots of activity in the biotech sector - Novo Nordisk, Defence Therapeutics, Morphosys

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharma
  • Innovations
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Despite the rather gloomy economic outlook on the one hand and high interest rates on the other, there is significant movement in the capital-intensive biotechnology sector. After Amgen successfully concluded the acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics for USD 116.50 per share or a total volume of around USD 27.8 billion, further investments by Big Pharma in innovative and promising technologies will likely follow soon.

time to read: 3 minutes | Author: Stefan Feulner

Table of contents:

    David Elsley, CEO, Cardiol Therapeutics Inc.
    "[...] As a company dedicated to developing treatments for rare heart diseases, we see this as an opportune moment to contribute to the fight against heart disease and make meaningful strides in improving heart health worldwide. [...]" David Elsley, CEO, Cardiol Therapeutics Inc.

    Full interview


    Novo Nordisk - The Company of the Hour

    Hardly any company from the pharmaceutical and biotech sector is currently in the spotlight as much as the Danish group Novo Nordisk. At the beginning of the trading week, Europe's most valuable company sent a clear message to its competitors. Specifically, it concerns the active substance Semaglutide, better known through the highly-hyped drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, which are considered miracle cures for weight loss.

    In addition to accelerating weight loss, Semaglutide, which was initially developed to combat Type 2 diabetes, is now also being used to fight kidney disease. A study on the kidney results of the blockbuster drug Ozempic was unexpectedly terminated earlier due to its confirmed efficacy. According to a company release, the independent data monitoring committee announced its conclusions regarding an interim analysis, which found that predefined criteria for early study termination had been met. As a measure to protect the integrity of the ongoing study, the agency ruled that Novo Nordisk should only have access to the preliminary results once the study is fully completed. This is expected to occur in the first half of 2024.

    In the wake of the positive events, the next bang for the buck came at the end of the week with what is already the third increase in annual forecasts. In this context, growth is now expected to be between 32% and 38%. Novo Nordisk initially expected a range of 27% to 33%, with the pharmaceutical giant's 2022 revenues totaling EUR 23.78 billion. The forecast for EBIT has also been raised substantially. After a planned growth of 31% to 37%, earnings before interest and taxes are now expected to increase by 40-46%. Due to the positive highlights, the share reached a new all-time high of USD 102.14 at the end of the week. Due to the current positive momentum, investors should gradually tighten the stop.

    Defence Therapeutics - Like clockwork

    Like Novo Nordisk, the Canadian biotech company Defence Therapeutics, which is working on developing the next generation of vaccines and ADC products using its proprietary platform, produces weekly success stories. The basic framework is ACCUM® technology, which enables precise transport of vaccine antigens or ADCs in intact form to target cells, which can lead to improved efficacy against diseases such as infectious diseases and cancer.

    In late September, the Canadians published clinical data indicating that their encapsulation strategy used to produce the Accum® mRNA lipid nanoparticles triggers an antibody response twice as potent as that seen with standard mRNA lipid nanoparticles. The positive results will now accelerate further testing to optimize further vaccine development.

    Industry experts see excellent prospects for the non-water-soluble Accum® molecule, which is being developed to treat existing T-cell lymphomas and can help fight cancer in two distinct ways. This is shown in the recently published peer-reviewed study by Defence Therapeutics in the Journal of Cancer Science. The advantages of Accum® technology over molecules detected by high-throughput screening are clear. The destruction of cancer cells takes place on two levels. Firstly, direct cell death of various lines in colorectal skin or breast cancer is said to occur, and secondly, the patient's immune system is alerted to act against the cancer cells.

    Shares of Defence Therapeutics broke through their downtrend established since mid-January earlier this month and have since posted a performance of around 30%, reaching CAD 2.90. The next target is likely the interim high from June at CAD 3.30. With continued positive news flow, achieving this milestone may only be a matter of time.

    Morphosys - Target price increased by over 150%

    Positive comments from the United States enabled Morphosys AG, based in Martinsried near Munich, to take an important step towards ending the corrective movement that has been underway since the annual high of EUR 32.49 in mid-September. The price jump enabled the stock to crack the important resistance level at EUR 24 and to break away more clearly from the 200-day moving average at EUR 22.63, which continues to rise.

    Accordingly, Morgan Stanley is more optimistic after rather skeptical reports in the past. The price target was significantly increased from EUR 13.50 to EUR 35.00. In addition, the investment recommendation for the Bavarian biotech is now no longer "underweight" but "overweight". Morgan Stanley mentioned that Morphosys is "manifesting" its success, referring to the Manifest-2 study featuring the promising candidate Pelabresib. At the same time, analyst James Quigley believes the trial has a good chance of success. The expert sees blockbuster drug potential, with sales expected to reach USD 1.6 billion for the cancer treatment Pelabresib.

    With the third forecast increase, the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has reached a new all-time high and continues to show strong momentum. Analysts at Morgan Stanley see significant potential in Morphosys. Defence Therapeutics broke out of its downward trend and is likely to target interim highs with further positive news flow.

    Conflict of interest

    Pursuant to §85 of the German Securities Trading Act (WpHG), we point out that Apaton Finance GmbH as well as partners, authors or employees of Apaton Finance GmbH (hereinafter referred to as "Relevant Persons") may hold shares or other financial instruments of the aforementioned companies in the future or may bet on rising or falling prices and thus a conflict of interest may arise in the future. The Relevant Persons reserve the right to buy or sell shares or other financial instruments of the Company at any time (hereinafter each a "Transaction"). Transactions may, under certain circumstances, influence the respective price of the shares or other financial instruments of the Company.

    In addition, Apaton Finance GmbH is active in the context of the preparation and publication of the reporting in paid contractual relationships.

    For this reason, there is a concrete conflict of interest.

    The above information on existing conflicts of interest applies to all types and forms of publication used by Apaton Finance GmbH for publications on companies.

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    Der Autor

    Stefan Feulner

    The native Franconian has more than 20 years of stock exchange experience and a broadly diversified network.
    He is passionate about analyzing a wide variety of business models and investigating new trends.

    About the author

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