Los Angeles Business Journal

Kythera Shares Jump on Study Results

By Business Journal Staff Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shares of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc. soared 25 percent on Tuesday after the Calabasas biotech announced positive clinical trial results for its lead drug candidate, which reduces double chins.

After the markets closed Monday, the aesthetic medicine company said that two separate and identical Phase III trials conducted in the United States and Canada found that more than 80 percent of patients saw significant reduction in fat with minimal side effects.

The drug, ATX-101, is a synthetic version of deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown of dietary fat. It is injected directly into the chin area.

The results prompted Goldman Sachs to initiative coverage of the stock with a neutral rating and prompted other analysts to raise their price targets. Four out of six analysts polled by Bloomberg News rate the stock the equivalent of a “buy” with an average 12-month price target of $48.50.

William Tanner of Lazard Capital Markets aggressively raised his target from $32 to $57, reaffirming his “buy” rating.

“Management’s discussion of the Phase III data released last night revealed no downside surprises to us. The drug appears to be highly active as judged by physician- and patient-reported outcome scales and the side effects were highly consistent with prior observations,” Tanner wrote in an investors’ note.

And Ken Cacciatore of Cowen & Co., who has a $50 price target, said the company could even be a bigger hit for investors if it finds a strategic buyer.

Kythera has said it hopes to ask the FDA for approval later this year to begin marketing the drug next year in the United States. German drug company Bayer HealthCare holds development and commercialization rights outside North America.

Kythera went public last October, raising $72.6 million. Its market cap now stands at $782 million.

Shares rose $8.42 to close at $41.95 on the Nasdaq.