Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Conatus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CNAT) is “One to Watch”

Conatus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNAT), a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of new medicines to treat a variety of liver diseases, recently announced its financial results for the third quarter of 2016 ended September 30. The company reported no revenue, as it is still in the clinical development stage.

As a result, focus has been on the development of its lead compound, Emricasan, an orally active pan-caspase protease inhibitor that should reduce the activity of human caspases, the enzymes that mediate inflammation and apoptosis. CNAT believes that by reducing the activity of these enzymes, its compound, Emricasan, can interrupt the progress of liver disease and provide potential treatments.

In terms of financial results, the third quarter earnings loss was in-line with street estimates, and cash on hand stands at approximately $31.1 million, which the company believes is enough to maintain operations throughout 2017. Although net loss was slightly higher than this time last year, research and development, administrative, personnel, consulting, legal, and accounting expenses were up due to the progression of the company’s ENCORE program.

This month, the company initiated a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase IIb clinical trial called ENCORE-PH, which will show results after 24 weeks of twice-daily treatments with Emricasan. Two other ongoing Emricasan phase IIb clinical trials include POLT-HCV-SVR and ENCORE-NF. All phase IIb clinical trials evaluate the potential improvements in various forms of fibrosis and steatohepatitis, as well as the effects Emricasan.

A number of analysts have now published positive reports on Conatus Pharmaceuticals. Zacks Investment Research upgraded the company from ‘Hold’ status to ‘Buy’, while several other research firms offered CNAT an ‘Outperform’ status and upped their price targets on shares. Price targets range from $6 to $16.

Aegis Capital Corp. (http://dtn.fm/YZ3w8) published a company update report giving Conatus Pharmaceuticals a ‘Buy’ rating with a price target of $7. This was based on the fact that the company’s EPS is in line for the third quarter of 2016, in addition to the announcement of the ENCORE-PH trial initiation earlier this month.

Several large investors have made changes to their positions in the company’s stocks, according to an article on the Cerbat Gem Market and News Analysis (http://dtn.fm/nM0bG) website. The article reports that KCG Holdings, Inc. bought a new stake in shares during Q3 2016 worth $135,000, and that E. Shaw & Co. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. upped their stakes in shares by over 94% and 2%, respectively. Courage Capital Management LLC also bought a new stake in shares worth $200,000, while Vanguard Group, Inc. boosted its stake in shares by over 3%.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.conatuspharma.com

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