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Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT): Oppenheimer Advises Investors to Wait for the Next Catalyst


Today, Conatus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CNAT) share price took a hit on the announcement that the drug maker’s POLT-HCV-SVR proof-of-concept clinical trial, in liver transplant patients with fibrosis or cirrhosis, didn’t hit the mark. As of this writing, CNAT is down nearly 29% to trade at $4.26.

However, Oppenheimer analyst Jay Olson still sees the light at the end of the tunnel, reiterating an Outperform rating on the stock, while cutting the price target to $14 (from $16), which still represents a huge upside of 133% from where the stock is currently trading. (To watch Olson’s track record, click here)

Olson commented, “Despite the lack of clarity around F6 patients in POLT, we remain optimistic about the next catalyst for CNAT which is top-line results for the Ph2 NASH study, ENCORE-PH, in 2H18. We believe the POC established for emricasan anti-fibrotic activity in POLT provides confidence for ENCORE-PH because this study also includes fibrotic and cirrhotic patients.”

“We update our model to reflect these results by removing POLT based on the missed primary endpoint and uncertainty surrounding any joint decision by CNAT with partner Novartis. As it is the leader of caspase inhibition, we believe CNAT presents a unique opportunity for investors to participate in the potential of a broadly applicable treatment for liver diseases including NASH,” the analyst continued.

How does Olson’s bullish bet weigh in against the Street? It appears the analyst is not the only one enthusiastic on this drug maker’s prospects, with TipRanks analytics demonstrating CNAT as a Strong Buy. Out of 6 analysts polled  in the last 12 months, all 6 are bullish on Conatus stock. With a return potential of nearly 138.5%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $14.33.

 

Conatus is a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of novel medicines to treat liver disease. In collaboration with Novartis, Conatus is developing its lead compound, emricasan, for the treatment of patients with chronic liver disease. Emricasan is a first-in-class, orally active pan-caspase inhibitor designed to reduce the activity of enzymes that mediate inflammation and apoptosis. Conatus believes that by reducing the activity of these enzymes, caspase inhibitors have the potential to interrupt the progression of a variety of diseases.