Bullish Open Interest in Small-Cap Bio Ahead of Key NASH Data in Q1
Intercept (ICPT) intriguing small-cap bio with size in the March expiration from buyers in January including 4,250 at the $20 strike for $1.15M. ICPT also has 1,500 of the January $12.50 short puts and 2000 of the March $25 calls in open interest. The company has a big event expected in February with Phase 3 data from the REVERSE trial of OCA in cirrhotic NASH. Street estimates sees about 100% upside versus 20% downside. Intercept has been pushing to get the first treatment to market for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (aka NASH) but has faced a number of challenges. The company initially reported positive Phase 3 data in 2019 but the FDA rejected their application for approval and requested another trial and more data. The company has embarked on another Phase 3 in patients with cirrhosis but not showing symptoms, REVERSE, which combined with the REGENERATE trial would form the basis for approval and potential to refile in late 2022. NASH is the build-up of liver fat in people who drink little or no alcohol and can often cause obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It is a common disease and the NIH estimates there are as many as 30M people with the disease. NASH could be a $35B market opportunity overall. B Riley upgraded shares on 1/11 to Buy citing a catalyst rich first half of 2022. Piper was not concerned with the delay in December given the holiday season and actually sees this as an advantage for Intercept to present a complete package of REVERSE and REGENERATE databases to the public ahead of its resubmission meeting with the FDA in the first half of 2022.