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Nektar Therapeutics Is a Short

Stocks in this article: NKTR AZN CBST SLXP PGNX

NKTR-118 is an OIC drug with subpar characteristics being evaluated in uncertain clinical trials and with iffy commercial prospects. I can't see how this asset is worth a lot more than $100 million, if that. This leaves a whole lot of market cap for Nektar and its shareholders to justify.

The Rest of Nektar

Nektar's current net cash is $262 million and the company has been burning about $75 million per year. If you include the interest payments Nektar must make on its senior secured debt, another $75 million of future interest payments must be removed from calculation, leaving $187 million net cash. I value Nektar's cash at $100 million, roughly including one year of burn and waste that is endemic to the company as well as subtracting future guaranteed interest payments.

Nektar receives a royalty on Omontys, the new anemia medicine from Takeda and Affymax (AFFY) which must take market share from entrenched competitors. If Omontys can generate $200 million in sales, the royalty to Nektar is worth $50 million. However, Omontys was only just launched and seems to be on a $30 million run rate.

NKTR-061 is an inhaled antibiotic in development by Bayer. The market for inhaled antibiotics is tiny and I suspect the difficulties already seen with this program will result in its termination. I put in a generous placeholder valuation of $25 million.

NKTR-102 is a controversial cancer drug that has seen better days. Once the star in Nektar's portfolio, expectations on Wall Street have dropped for this product. NKTR-102 is a long-acting version of irinotecan, a cheap generic chemotherapy in a phase III trial for breast cancer.

I have zero expectation that NKTR-102 is any better than irinotecan. Nektar appears to agree with me because the phase III study compares NKTR-102 to physician's choice. Even if this study works, who cares? Perhaps NKTR-102 is worth $50 million (I wouldn't pay that) but someone might.

Nektar is spending some money designing new opioids. As a short seller, I love it when companies waste their funds on meaningless programs. New opioids are not needed. Period. The end. The world is replete with painkillers and new ones are not selling well.

Let's tally up Nektar's value. I give the company $1 per share in cash, $1 per share for NKTR-118 and $1 per share for everything else. That makes Nektar a $3 stock that trades today for $8.26.

With NKTR-118 news coming soon, I expect a failure to take the stock directly to $2-3 per share. Successful NKTR-118 clinical trial results will still cause the stock to fall more gradually over once investors realize that the drug has minimal commercial potential.

Shkreli is short Nektar shares.

Follow Martin Shkreli on Twitter.

Martin Shkreli is the managing member of MSMB Capital, a New York-based hedge-fund and private-equity firm focused on health care. He is also president and founder of Retrophin, a biotechnology company that develops treatments for rare and severe diseases. Shkreli has spent his career in the hedge-fund industry, previously in roles with Intrepid Capital Management and Cramer Berkowitz & Co. Shkreli lives in New York City and received a BBA in finance from Baruch College.
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