10 Biotech Stocks Below Cash Value with Key Catalysts on the Horizon: An Analysis
The biotech sector, known for its exponential growth potential, is currently facing highly challenging market conditions. Influences like rising inflation, geopolitical tensions, and looming economic recessions have led to a sharp decline in the sector. Consequently, many small and micro-cap biotech companies are trading at all-time lows, with several down by over 80-90% in recent years. This downturn has led to many biotech firms trading below their cash holdings.
However, such scenarios can present compelling investment opportunities. Companies trading below their cash value, especially those gearing up for strategic shifts or innovative ventures, often possess untapped potential. The real interest lies in those with upcoming clinical catalysts, turning these market anomalies into very intriguing investment prospects.
In this report, we spotlight 10 biotech companies trading below their cash reserves, set to experience impactful events in the next 3 to 6 months.
1. Achilles Therapeutics (Nasdaq:ACHL)
Market Cap: $35.21M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash and cash equivalents were $143.7 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Achilles is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm using AI to develop precision T cell therapies targeting unique protein markers on cancer cells. The Company’s ongoing trials include the CHIRON for advanced NSCLC and THETIS for metastatic melanoma. Using its PELEUS™ platform, Achilles identifies patient-specific clonal neoantigens to create targeted T cell-based treatments.
Near Term Catalyst: Achilles anticipates reporting clinical and translational science data from 15 to 20 additional patients treated with cNeT monotherapy in NSCLC and melanoma, and with a cNeT/anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor combination in melanoma, in Q4 2023.
2. Adverum Biotechnologies (Nasdaq:ADVM)
Market Cap: $97.56M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were $141.5 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Adverum Biotechnologies, a clinical-stage company, uses its IVT platform to develop ixoberogene soroparvovec (Ixo-vec), a gene therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration. Ixo-vec, designed for a one-time IVT injection, aims to reduce the frequent ocular injections, promising sustained efficacy and improved patient outcomes. The U.S. FDA has granted Ixo-vec Fast Track designation, and it also received PRIME designation in Europe. The ongoing LUNA trial, a Phase 2 study of Ixo-vec in wet AMD, is evaluating its efficacy, safety, and the potential of minimizing treatment burdens across multiple sites in the U.S. and Europe.
Near Term Catalyst: In late Q3 2023, Adverum anticipates data for aflibercept protein levels for a percentage of the cohort with a minimum of 14 weeks of follow-up as of data cutoff. By Q4 2023, they anticipate LUNA preliminary efficacy and safety data for a percentage of the cohort.
3. Atea Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:AVIR)
Market Cap: $242.27M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities: $608 million as of June 30,2023.
Company Description: Atea is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company specializing in oral antiviral therapies for serious viral infections, including COVID-19 and hepatitis C (HCV). Utilizing their expertise in antiviral development and nucleos(t)ide chemistry, they’ve developed a proprietary platform for novel treatments. Their leading candidate, Bemnifosbuvir, targets the SARS-CoV-2 RNA polymerase, offering potential resistance to viral mutations, and has shown promising activity against various virus variants. Another notable drug, Ruzasvir, a pangenotypic antiviral, has demonstrated safety and efficacy in over 1,200 HCV-infected patients.
Near Term Catalyst: The Company expects to report initial results from the lead-in cohort of its Phase 2 combination study of bemnifosbuvir and ruzasvir for the treatment of HCV in approximately 60 patients by theend of 2023.
4. Bolt Biotherapeutics (Nasdaq: BOLT)
Market Cap: $37.71M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities were $157.1 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Bolt Biotherapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, specializes in innovative immunotherapies for cancer treatment. Leveraging its Boltbody™ Immune-Stimulating Antibody Conjugate (ISAC) platform, Bolt is advancing therapies such as BDC-1001 for HER2-targeting and BDC-3042, targeting Dectin-2. Their unique approach combines antibodies with immune system activation, aiming to reshape the tumor environment for more effective anti-cancer responses.
Near Term Catalyst: The FDA cleared the IND for BDC-3042, a unique agonist antibody targeting Dectin-2, in July 2023. The Company plans to initiate its first-in-human trial for BDC-3042 this year, with a Phase 1 study on solid tumors to follow later in 2023.
5. Context Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CNTX)
Market Cap: $17.24M as of October 24,2023.
Cash: Cash and cash equivalents were $25.1 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Context Therapeutics Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company advancing medicines for solid tumors. Context is developing CTIM-76, a selective Claudin 6 (“CLDN6”) x CD3 bispecific antibody for CLDN6-positive tumors, currently in preclinical development. CLDN6 is a tight junction membrane protein target expressed in multiple solid tumors, including ovarian, lung, and testicular cancers, and absent from or expressed at low levels in healthy adult tissues.
Near Term Catalyst: In Q2, Context progressed with their preclinical asset CTIM-76, a CLDN6 x CD3 bispecific antibody. This immunotherapy, with its specificity, aims to target CLDN6-positive tumors like lung, ovarian, and testicular cancers. Further preclinical data is anticipated by the end of 2023, with plans to file an IND by Q1 2024.
6. Equillium, Inc (Nasdaq:EQ)
Market Cap: $19.22M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments totaled $48.4 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Equillium is a clinical-stage biotech company focused on novel therapeutics for autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Its pipeline includes EQ101, targeting IL-2, IL-9, and IL-15, in Phase 2 trials for alopecia areata; EQ102, targeting IL-15 and IL-21, in Phase 1 studies for celiac disease; and Itolizumab, aimed at the CD6-ALCAM pathway, in Phase 3 for acute graft-versus-host disease and Phase 1b for lupus.
Near Term Catalyst: For EQ101, there is an ongoing Phase 2 clinical study in subjects with alopecia areata. Initial data is expected in the second half of 2023, while topline data is anticipated by mid-2024. EQ102 is in the Phase 1 first-in-human study stage involving healthy volunteers and subjects with celiac disease. Data for single ascending dose/multiple ascending dose is projected to be available in the second half of 2023, with data from celiac disease patients anticipated in 2024. As for Itolizumab, EQUALISE lupus nephritis topline data is forecasted for early 2024, and the EQUATOR aGVHD interim review is also anticipated in 2024.
7. IO Biotech (Nasdaq:IOBT)
Market Cap: $65.425M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash and cash equivalents were $110.1 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: IO Biotech is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel, immune-modulating cancer vaccines based on its T-win® vaccine platform. The T-win platform is a novel approach to cancer vaccines designed to activate T cells to target the most important immunosuppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment. IO Biotech is advancing in clinical studies its lead cancer vaccine candidate, IO102-IO103, targeting IDO and PD-L1, and through preclinical development its other pipeline candidates.
Near Term Catalyst: The Company recently achieved a crucial enrollment milestone in its Phase 3 trial for the IO102-IO103 cancer vaccine, targeting patients with advanced melanoma, with 225 patients already enrolled. With enrollment progressing rapidly, IO Biotech is set for a pivotal interim analysis one year post-randomization of these patients and, if successful, anticipates filing for accelerated approval in the US, with full trial enrollment expected by the end of 2023.
8. Kezar Life Sciences (Nasdaq:KZR)
Market Cap: $64.70M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities totaled $236.6 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Kezar Life Sciences is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm developing treatments for immune-mediated and oncologic disorders. They focus on small-molecule therapies targeting master cellular regulators. Their lead asset, Zetomipzomib, has finished a Phase 2 trial in lupus nephritis, and KZR-261, targeting the Sec61 translocon, is in a Phase 1 trial for solid tumors.
Near Term Catalyst: Top-line data from the phase I study of KZR-261 in solid tumors is anticipated in 2024.
9. Leap Therapeutics (Nasdaq:LPTX)
Market Cap: $37.22M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash and cash equivalents totaled $91.4 million at June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Leap Therapeutics (Nasdaq: LPTX) specializes in targeted and immuno-oncology therapies. Its leading candidate, DKN-01, targets the DKK1 protein and is being studied in various cancers. FL-301, targeting Claudin18.2, is under development for gastric and pancreatic cancer, with additional preclinical programs in progress.
Near Term Catalyst: Leap presented extended data from its DisTinGuish study’s Part A at ASCO, highlighting a 19.5-month median survival, outpacing current benchmarks. The Company expects to complete enrollment for the study’s 160-patient Part C by Q4 2023.
10. Shattuck Labs (Nasdaq:STTK)
Market Cap: $65.40M as of October 24, 2023.
Cash: Cash and cash equivalents and investments were $117.2 million as of June 30, 2023.
Company Description: Shattuck Labs is advancing bi-functional fusion proteins to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. Utilizing its proprietary ARC® platform, Shattuck designs therapies that concurrently inhibit checkpoint molecules and activate costimulatory molecules. The Company’s lead program, SL-172154, targeting the CD47 immune checkpoint and the CD40 pathway, is under multiple Phase 1 trials.
Near Term Catalyst: Shattuck Labs is gearing up for three pivotal updates in Q4 2023. The company completed the dose-escalation phase of the SL-172154 Phase 1A/B trial for AML and HR-MDS and anticipates full enrollment in expansion cohorts for HR-MDS and TP53 mutant AML by the end of Q4 2023. Concurrently, there’s active enrollment in the Phase 1B trial where SL-172154 is combined with liposomal doxorubicin to target PROC; completion of this enrollment and the release of preliminary data are both projected for Q4 2023. In another endeavor, the Phase 1B trial enrollment continues for SL-172154 in conjunction with mirvetuximab soravtansine for PROC, with early results also expected within the same timeframe.