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06-May-2019 / 08:13 GMT/BST
Curetis (CURE-NL): Partnering drives turn-round
Target Price: EUR3.50 (reduced from EUR10)
Current Price: EUR1.14 (CoB on 3rd May 2019)
Insufficiently financed to implement its integrated model, Curetis has opted to market its infection diagnostic Unyvero platform through established players. In Europe, Curetis will now leverage the extensive sales and marketing infrastructure of Menarini. While maintaining a direct sales capability for now, we anticipate that Curetis will also move towards a co-distribution model to exploit the substantial US opportunity. Prospects in China remain bright with partner Beijing Clear Biotech ("BCB") boosting minimum purchase guarantees in advance of Unyvero approval and launch in 2020E. Curetis believes that this less capital intensive strategy can be funded from the out-licensing of the new 'load and walk' Unyvero A30 RQ; a variety of partners may be interested in this flexible, convenient and cost-effective MDx solution. Expected to be self-financing in the near term, there may be additional upside from a possible spin-out of its unique AMR (anti-microbial resistance) subsidiary Ares Genetics. Now at historic lows, we reiterate our OUTPERFORM recommendation, and reduce our target price to EUR3.50 (from EUR10).
Strong European partner - Where Curetis has struggled on-its-own, with 1000 employees, pan-European infrastructure and ten thousand instrument installed base, Menarini Diagnostics is well equipped to drive adoption of the Unyvero A50 platform.
US remains major opportunity - Increasing regulatory and commercial incentives for rapid accurate infection diagnosis are expected to drive demand for Unyvero A50 in the innovative and less fragmented US market. Currently focussed on direct sales, we anticipate movement to a more partnered model will accelerate A50 adoption.
China opportunity expanded - With approval by the National Medical Products Administration and launch expected in 2020E, BCB has already increased minimum purchase guarantees to 360 systems and 1.5 million test cartridges over eight years.
Largely self-financing - Suitable for application in infectious disease, oncology and beyond, Curetis indicates significant interest to license the cost-effective, rapid load and walk Unyvero A30 RQ platform. Resulting upfront payments expected to be sufficient to support new less capital-intensive strategy.
Upside from Ares Genetics AMR spin-out - Ares subsidiary equipped to meet growing demand for detection and monitoring of AMR. Initial opportunity will be in testing service for public health and more complex infection; long term upside from development of IVD kits supported by same-day cloud-based AMR analysis. Most likely venture funded; with first financing round possible by YE2019E.
Value upside and triggers - Unable to finance an integrated model, the stock has seen a dramatic decline. We see significant upside from the new less capital-intensive co-distribution strategy. First cash upfronts from A30 RQ out-licensing and a possible VC funding of Ares Genetics promise potential triggers in H2/2019E, H1/2020E.
Chris Redhead | Analyst
goetzpartners Healthcare Research Team | Research Team
goetzpartners securities Limited