Wed, Sep 19, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Shares of biotech firm jump on OTC market debut

DRUGS MONEY:PharmaEngine Inc, which saw its share price value rocket by an incredible 51 percent, has a strong future said analysts citing a new anti-cancer drug it plans to launch in 2014

Staff writer, with CNA

Shares of PharmaEngine Inc (智擎生技) — a Taiwan-based biopharmaceutical company — jumped on the first day of its listing on the domestic over-the-counter (OTC) market as sentiment remained optimistic over its earnings outlook, dealers said.

However, shares of Tai Tong Food & Beverage Group (瓦城泰統集團), the operator of three restaurant chains with 40 outlets, fell into negative territory in a volatile session at GRETAI Securities Market, after enjoying just a one-day honeymoon with investors.

PharmaEngine shares closed up 51.16 percent from NT$86.00 (US$2.94) issue price to NT$130.00 with 9.54 million shares changing hands. The GRETAI Securities Market index meanwhile was up 0.06 percent at 107.36 yesterday.

However, Tai Tong, which saw a 15-percent rally on its Monday debut and closed at NT$253 from its listing price of NT$220, ended 2.37 percent lower at NT$247 yesterday.

Shares of PharmaEngine rallied soon after the OTC market opened and the momentum continued until the end of the session on expectations that the company’s bottom line will continue to benefit from licensing fee income from its anti-cancer drugs, dealers said.

Though the broader market fell into a consolidation mode after strong gains recently, ample liquidity prompted investors to pick up small-cap and mid-cap stocks, providing support for PharmaEngine, they said.

PharmaEngine, which is capitalized at NT$920 million, issued 10.83 million new shares to raise more than NT$931 million as working capital for future expansion. About 15 percent of the shares were reserved for its employees.

The Taipei-based company tentatively set the issue price at NT$80 initially, but raised it after its shares were about 130 times oversubscribed in the underwriting process.

“The issue price of the stock was relatively low based on its earnings outlook, attracting many bargain hunters today,” Horizon Securities (宏遠證券) analyst Benson Huang (黃重善) said. “The stock had a pretty good honeymoon with investors.”

“PharmaEngine is good at developing anti-cancer drugs, which have become stable sources of income through licensing fees. The products have good potential to grow in the market,” Huang said.

One of PharmaEngine’s products in the pipeline, liposome irinotecan, which targets colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, brain, lung, breast and cervical cancers, is expected to be launched in the third quarter of 2014.

PharmaEngine has licensed US-based counterpart Merrimack Pharmaceuticals to develop the drug in Europe and Asia. The Taiwanese firm has received US$15 million in licensing fees from the US company already and is expected to receive an additional US$205 million in fees in the future.

PharmaEngine had a net profit last year of NT$286 million, or NT$4.01 per share. In the first half of this year, the company reported a net profit of NT$127 million, or NT$1.58 per share.

The major shareholders of PharmaEngine include the National Development Fund (國發基金) of the Executive Yuan, Taiwan-based TTY Biopharm Co (台灣東洋藥品) and China Development Industrial Bank (中華開發工銀).

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