WB starts Viking Therapeutics at OP

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William Blair launched coverage of Viking Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VKTX) with an “outperform” rating. The stock closed at $3.97 on April 27.

Viking has a differentiated clinical pipeline focusing on modulating hormone receptors in a tissue-specific and receptor-selective fashion.

“Based on its pleiotropic actions and benign safety profile, we believe VK2809 is uniquely positioned for treating fatty liver disease or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis,” writes analyst Andy Hsieh.

In addition, VK5211 is a non-steroidal, tissue-specific selective androgen receptor modulator that has recently demonstrated the ability to boost lean body mass among patients recovering from hip fracture in a positive Phase 2 study, he added.

Viking also is investigating the potential role of VK0214 in an orphan neurodegenerative disease, X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, based on encouraging preclinical data.

Mr. Hsieh said Viking has several value-creating inflection events in 2018 that provide investors with multiple shots on goal.

Beyond VK2809’s Phase 2 readout, he said Viking plans to seek additional guidance from the FDA regarding a pivotal program and simultaneously pursue partnership opportunities for VK5211, which “we believe could lead to infusion of non-dilutive capital and future milestones.”

In addition, “we believe positive results from [Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’] MGL-3196’s 36-week liver biopsy in May could materially de-risk VK2809 and serve as further validation to the therapeutic approach,” he added.