HCW starts BioTime at buy; PT $4

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H.C. Wainwright launched coverage of BioTime (NYSE American:BTX) with a “buy” rating and $4 price target. The stock closed at $1.15 on Feb. 20.

Analyst Joseph Pantginis writes that BioTime was originally focused on regenerative medicine through embryonic stem cell research and product development, but over time became a convoluted mix of subsidiaries and ownership structures, “which we believe dissuaded investor interest through the fourth quarter of 2018.”

The company has returned to its roots with a singular focus on cellular therapy for unmet medical needs and has “become more deliberate in its strategic decisions for its platform assets,” he added.

Mr. Pantginis said the first part of renewing investor interest appears almost complete with new management and sale of non-core subsidiaries, simplifying the investment case. “We believe it is now time to take a look at the opportunity as pipeline focus should be the major driver of the shares.”

BioTime’s lead asset is OpRegen, an embryonic stem cell therapy designed to replace retinal-pigmented epithelial cells. The therapy is currently in an ongoing Phase 2 study for the dry version of acute macular degeneration.

Mr. Pantginis said important data updates for OpRegen are expected this year at two conferences: the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in April and the American Academy of Ophthalmology in October, which “should be critical drivers of the shares, and assist in driving pivotal plans and discussions with the FDA.”

A second asset, though non-core is Renevia for HIV-lipoatrophy, he added. “We project CE Mark approval this year and commercialization through a partner in 2020, providing near-term royalty revenue to BioTime.”

Stephen Kilmer