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Tuesday’s Movers: Benitec Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (BNTC) Jumps, Seadrill Ltd (SDRL) Tumbles, NewLink Genetics Corp (NLNK) Flops


Benitec Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:BNTC) shares jumped nearly 45% to $4.44 in Tuesday’s trading session, after the Australian biotechnology published positive pre-clinical results from its OPMD program. The results demonstrated that a DNA directed RNA interference approach to ‘silence and replace’ the mutant PABPN1 protein, results in the correction of the muscular dystrophy and of key clinical features of OPMD including a progressive atrophy and muscle weakness associated with nuclear aggregates of insoluble PABPN1.

Chief Scientific Officer Dr David Suhy commented, “These published results have been critical for establishing the proof of concept that a ddRNAi approach may be able to treat this orphan disease […] Furthermore, this program highlights one of the unique aspects of the Benitec technology that is not readily attainable by other gene therapy approaches. Specifically, through our unique approach to gene silencing and gene therapy, we are able to knock out the mutated form of the gene and have the ability to express a normal copy to restore function. We are extremely excited about the progress we have made with our OPMD program and, with our European Orphan Drug Designation, we look forward to streamlining the process towards regulatory approval.”

Maxim analyst Jason McCarthy rates BNTC a Hold without providing a price target. According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Jason McCarthy has a yearly average return of -10.7% and a 36% success rate. McCarthy is ranked #4467 out of 4557 analysts.

Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL) shares took a sharp turn down Tuesday, falling over 60%, after the oil and gas rig maker warned that its debt restructuring process would result in significant losses in the face of potential bankruptcy proceedings.

The management said, “We expect the implementation of a comprehensive restructuring plan will likely involve schemes of arrangement or chapter 11 proceedings, and we are preparing accordingly.  The Company`s business operations remain unaffected by these restructuring efforts and the Company will continue to meet its ongoing customer and business counterparty obligations.”

Credit Suisse’s Gregory Lewis recently noted, “SDRL continues to work with its banks and bond holders on a restructuring plan that it plans to finalize by April 30th. We note management’s initial target date for its restructuring plan was May 2016. With its lenders wanting to avoid rig ownership we expect the lenders to provide debt amortization relief in exchange for insiders providing a ~$1.5B+ loan to be used for working capital. While SDRL noted other options remain on the table – we would expect those to be even more dilutive to equity holders.”

NewLink Genetics Corp (NASDAQ:NLNK) saw its shares falling about 10% Tuesday, after announcing interim results from NLG2103, a Phase 2 study evaluating its IDO pathway inhibitor, indoximod, in combination with checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma.

Cantor Mara Goldstein commented, “The company’s press release this morning indicates clinical activity, and a competitive profile, in our view. We think that this data will continue to drive valuation for the shares, particularly because we think it will raise the conviction on GDC-0919, NewLink’s IDO inhibitor being developed by Roche in combination with Tecentriq. The shares have moved ahead of our PT, and we note that we have indoximod valued at $14, which we will be reviewing following release of the full dataset later today.” Goldstein rates NLNK an Overweight with a $20 price target.

Out of the 6 analysts polled by TipRanks (in the past 12 months), 5 rate Newlink stock a Buy, while 1 rates the stock a Hold. With a return potential of 4%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $21.60. 

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