Options Traders Position for Further Upside in HBV-Focused Biotech Arbutus (ABUS)
Arbutus Bio (ABUS) strong biotech setting up well for a continuation higher and bullish options flow recently makes it worth a look at the name as a speculative small-cap position. ABUS has seen buyers of 6,750 December $5 calls, 4,900 October $4 calls, and sellers on 9/21 in the December $3.50 puts 3850X. ABUS shares jumped recently out of a long multi-month base and now flagging above the rising 8-EMA. A move higher targets $5 and then a move to $7.50. The $421M biotech trades 50X sales and 5.4X cash. The company focuses on treatments for chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The company notes that HBV is a significant unmet need globally, more than double that of HCV, and potential for a much larger opportunity. There are 255M people infected with HBV worldwide with a major concentration in China and Europe. The current SOC lead to cure in less than 5% of patients. ABUS has a broad portfolio in the space with assets under RNAi, PD-L1, and capsid inhibitors. Their main pipeline product is AB-729, a subcutaneously-delivered RNAi candidate, which in an ongoing Phase Ia/Ib clinical trial. Early data has shown AB-729 to result in strong results through 12 weeks with no SAEs or discontinuations. Analysts have an average target for shares of $6.75 and a Street High $10. JMP positive over the Summer as AB-729 and AB-836 point to an exciting path to a functional cure for HBV. Highlights for the analyst include consistent, robust S-antigen suppressing activity for GalNAc RNAi AB-729 even at the lowest dose and least-frequent dosing intervals tested, and details on the potency of oral core inhibitor AB-836 in multiple pre-clinical settings, including against important HBV genotypes and resistance variants. Hedge fund ownership fell 20% last quarter. Roivant has 16M shares.