Ladenburg starts Athenex at buy; PT $27

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Ladenburg Thalmann launched coverage of Athenex (NASDAQ:ATNX) with a “buy” rating and $27 price target. The stock closed at $12.37 on Oct. 24.

Athenex is focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer. The company currently has several commercial business units generating revenues.

“We are encouraged by the company’s commercial presence, however, our investment thesis focuses on Athenex’s portfolio of compounds in late-stage clinical development, including Oraxol, which is in Phase 3 development, and KX01, which has already reported positive top-line Phase 3 results,” writes analyst Matthew Kaplan.

Oraxol is being developed for the treatment of breast cancer and a Phase 3 study is ongoing with top-line results expected by the second quarter of 2019. The trial is comparing Oraxol monotherapy against IV paclitaxel monotherapy in about 360 patients with metastatic breast cancer. The primary endpoint is overall response rate.

KX-01 ointment is being evaluated in a Phase 3 program for the treatment of actinic keratosis, with positive top-line data reported in February 2018 for two Phase 3 studies. “We are impressed with the positive KX-01 results from its two Phase 3 studies in this indication … and believe they bode well for the potential approval of the product,” Mr. Kaplan said.

Both KX-01 Phase 3 studies achieved their primary endpoint of 100% clearance of actinic keratosis lesions, with each study achieving statistical significance, he added. KX-01 already has been partnered with Almirall and Mr. Kaplan expects Almirall could launch the product by the end of 2019.

Stephen Kilmer