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Large Call Spread Targets Upside in Small-Cap Bio Ahead of Pivotal UC Data in Q2

by | Feb 15, 2022

Protagonist Therapeutics (PTGX) with a large trade on 2/15 with the July $35/$45 call spread bought 5,000X to open for $2.05. PTGX has little other notable open interest but did see 1250 April $40 calls sold to buy the $25 puts in January. PTGX has key Phase 2 data upcoming for PN-943 in patients with ulcerative colitis and follows other UC readouts in the quarter from peers like Gossamer (GOSS) and Applied Molecular (AMTI). PTGX focuses on peptide-based therapeutic drugs and their pipeline includes treatments for polycythemia vera and hereditary hemochromatosis, as well as for the treatment of other blood disorders. They have a commercialization partnership with Janssen. UC is an inflammatory bowel disease that impacts about 750K people in North America. PTGX’s treatment, PN-943, is an oral, GI-restricted approach to treatment that has been shown to be 3X more potent than peers with strong efficacy. The drug blocks leukocyte trafficking to and activation in the gut, preventing colon inflammation and symptoms of active UC. PTGX sees it being a superior option to both Entyvio and Humira which currently dominate market and did $5B in sales in 2021. The $1.29B company trades 4X cash with 8.3% short interest. Analysts have an average target for share of $59 with a Street High $93. BTIG starting coverage on 2/11 with a $55 PT. The firm thinks PN-943 remains underappreciated given the encouraging signs of activity with their less potent predecessor molecule PTG-100 and roaring sales of Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ (TAK) Entyvio. Hedge fund ownership rose 8% last quarter. ECOR1, Samlyn Capital, and Deep Track all buyers of stock. Point72 and Artal are top holders.