Stock Update (NASDAQ:ESPR): Esperion Therapeutics Inc Provides ETC-1002 Development Program Update; Reports Third Quarter 2015 Financial Results


Esperion Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ESPR), a pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing first-in-class, oral, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering therapies for the treatment of patients with hypercholesterolemia, today provided ETC-1002 (bempedoic acid) development program updates and financial results for the third quarter endedSeptember 30, 2015.

“Our team remains focused and eager to advance the ETC-1002 development program into Phase 3 before year-end with the launch of our long-term safety study,” said Tim M. Mayleben, president and chief executive officer of Esperion. “We look forward to providing an update on our full Phase 3 plans in the first half of 2016 as we continue to work with major global regulatory authorities and key opinion leaders on the potential worldwide approval of ETC-1002 for patients with hypercholesterolemia (elevated LDL-C levels), especially those patients with a history of statin intolerance.”

Development Program and Company Highlights

  • July 28, 2015: Announced positive top-line results from the Phase 2 ETC-1002-014 clinical study in patients with both hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.
  • July 30, 2015: Hosted Second Annual Investor Day in New York City.
  • Early August: Held End-of-Phase 2 meeting with the FDA.
  • Late September: Announced updates from the final End-of-Phase 2 meeting minutes.

Upcoming Milestones

  • November 9, 2015: Two oral presentations at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions in Orlando FL:
    • “Identification of a Tissue Specific Very Long Chain Acyl-CoA Synthetase Involved in the Inhibition of ATP-Citrate Lyase (ACL) by ETC-1002: A Novel Mechanism for Cholesterol Biosynthesis Inhibition in the Liver,” presented by Stephen Pinkosky, Sr. Scientist, Head ofTranslational Research, Esperion Therapeutics, at 11:45am in Room W303;
    • “ETC-1002 Incrementally Lowers Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Patients with Hypercholesterolemia Receiving Stable Statin Therapy,” presented by Christie Ballantyne MD, Baylor College of Medicine, at 6:30pm in Room W205.
  • November 10, 2015: Presentation and webcast of full results of the Phase 2b ETC-1002-009 clinical study and new data on ATP Citrate Lyase inhibition, the mechanism of action of LDL-C lowering for ETC-1002.
  • December 2015:
    • Initiation of the Phase 2 ETC-1002-035 clinical study evaluating ETC-1002 in combination with high-dose statins (HDS);
    • Initiation of the Phase 3 ETC-1002-040 long-term safety study evaluating ETC-1002 compared to placebo in patients on background statin therapy.
  • 1H 2016:
    • File Investigational New Drug Application (IND) for the fixed dose combination of ETC-1002 and ezetimibe;
    • Announce Phase 3 worldwide development plans for ETC-1002.
  • Mid-2016:
    • Announce top-line results from the Phase 2 ETC-1002-035 clinical study evaluating ETC-1002 in combination with high-dose statins (HDS);
    • Initiation of the Phase 3 efficacy study of ETC-1002 in patients with statin intolerance.
  • 2H 2016:
    • Initiation of the Phase 3 cardiovascular outcomes study for ETC-1002.

2015 Third Quarter Financial Results

As of September 30, 2015, cash and cash equivalents and investment securities available-for-sale totaled $302.4 million compared with $141.6 millionat December 31, 2014.

Research and development expenses were $7.2 million for the third quarter of 2015 and $21.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2015, compared to $7.2 million and $19.1 million for the comparable periods in 2014. The increase in research and development expenses was primarily related to the further clinical development of ETC-1002.

General and administrative expenses were $5.7 million for the third quarter of 2015 and $15.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2015, compared to $2.5 million and $7.7 million for the comparable periods in 2014. The increase in general and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to costs to support public company operations, increases in headcount, which includes increased stock-based compensation expense, and other costs to support Esperion’s growth.

Esperion had a net loss of $12.8 million for the third quarter of 2015 and $36.7 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2015, compared to$9.8 million and $26.9 million for the comparable periods in 2014.

Esperion had approximately 22.5 million shares of common stock outstanding, with an additional 2.9 million shares issuable upon exercise of stock options and warrants and vesting of restricted stock, and $4.7 million of debt outstanding as of September 30, 2015.

2015 Financial Outlook

Esperion expects that the net cash used to fund operating activities in 2015 will be approximately $42 million and that its cash and cash equivalents and investment securities available-for-sale will total approximately $290 million at December 31, 2015. The Company estimates that current cash resources are sufficient to fund the Company through at least the end of 2018 and the potential approval of ETC-1002.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

Esperion’s management team will not host a conference call to review financial results from the third quarter ended September 30, 2015. Esperion will hold a live webcast briefing on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time to provide full clinical results of the Phase 2b ETC-1002-009 study and new data on ATP Citrate Lyase inhibition, the mechanism of action for LDL-C lowering for ETC-1002. Please visit www.esperion.com for webcast access and dial-in details.

Esperion’s Commitment to Cardiometabolic Disease

Esperion is committed to improving the lives of patients with hypercholesterolemia by developing therapies to lower LDL-C. Esperion scientists discovered ETC-1002 and the LDL-C lowering therapy is in late stage development. Esperion plans to develop both ETC-1002 and a fixed dose combination of ETC-1002 and ezetimibe with a particular focus on patients with hypercholesterolemia who are considered intolerant of statin therapy. It is estimated that approximately 10% of patients who are prescribed statins, 3.5 million patients in the U.S., are considered statin intolerant. (Original Source)

Shares of Esperion Therapeutics closed today at $27.50, down $1.23 or 4.28%. ESPR has a 1-year high of $120.96 and a 1-year low of $18.07. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $28.84 and its 200-day moving average is $68.39.

On the ratings front, Esperion has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on October 26, WallachBeth Capital LLC analyst Bob Ai initiated coverage with a Buy rating on ESPR and a price target of $34, which implies an upside of 16.1% from current levels. Separately, on October 12, Stifel Nicolaus’ Thomas Shrader maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $105.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Bob Ai and Thomas Shrader have a total average return of 17.6% and 5.3% respectively. Ai has a success rate of 62.5% and is ranked #1181 out of 3824 analysts, while Shrader has a success rate of 63.2% and is ranked #1489.

Overall, 2 research analysts have assigned a Hold rating and 6 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $60.75 which is 107.4% above where the stock opened today.

Esperion Therapeutics Inc is engaged in the research, development and commercialization of therapies for the treatment of patients with elevated levels of elevated levels of LDL-C.