MLV’s healthcare analyst Vernon Bernardino today weighed in with his thoughts on several stocks, which have promising candidates in clinical development for liver diseaes, following the news that Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) has acquired the Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) program of privately-held, Germany-based Phenex Pharmaceuticals, showing that M&A in the liver disease therapeutic area is heating up, particularly in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The analyst reiterates Buy recommendation on Conatus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CNAT), Galectin Therapeutics (NASDAQ:GALT) (the best value play) and Galmed Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GLMD), with price targets of $16, $16, $24 respectively. 

Bernardino wrote, “The agreement for Phenex’ small molecule FXR agonists, potentially worth up to $470MM, comes on the heels of the recent announcement in November by Bristol-Myers Squibb for the option, potentially worth $444MM, to acquire privately-held, Denmark-based Galecto Biotech AB, which has a Ph 1-stage candidate for NASH. We note that our covered companies, Conatus Pharmaceuticals, Galectin Therapeutics, and Galmed Pharmaceuticals are trading at attractive entry points with low downside risk.”

According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Vernon Bernardino has a total average return of -13.8% and a 28.0% success rate. Bernardino is ranked #3320 out of 3429 analysts.