Editors' Note: This article covers a micro-cap stock. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
On the evening of October 16th, Advaxis (ADXS) announced the pricing of its public offering of stock and warrants which was supplemented by news of an uplist to The NASDAQ Capital Market. Though this was anticipated, the move secures funding for Advaxis to advance operations and, in turn, focus on adding value to shareholders.
Details of Offering
The offering included pricing of 5,750,000 shares of common stock at $4.00/share and warrants to purchase up to 2,875,000 shares of common stock. Warrants have an exercise price of $5.00, are exercisable immediately, and expire in five years. The offering has also left the door open for additional shares of common stock (up to 862,500) and/or warrants (up to 431,250) to be purchased from Advaxis, if original demand is topped. Gross proceeds are approximately $23 million, leaving Advaxis fully financed for, at least, the next two years. The financing was accompanied by an uplist to The NASDAQ Capital Market, where shares and warrants of Advaxis will begin trading on October 17th.
Financing Pressure Lifted Off
In the latest quarterly report, Advaxis had a cash balance of $40,000, so the pressure for further funding had become the primary concern. With over $20 million in cash, enough to fully finance company operations for at least the next two years, Advaxis can now focus on adding shareholder value. Management will direct efforts towards strategic goals such as actively pursuing licensing partners, continuing development of the platform technology and obtaining FDA designations for their cancer treatments. Progressing operations will nourish growth organically so the need for another dilutive external financing is minimized.
Additionally, this deal, underwritten by Aegis Capital, involves participants that will likely hold company shares as an investment instead of dumping, like the prior toxic financing Advaxis dealt with. This is an obvious benefit for shareholders as well as the company stock price due to greater support. Historically, Aegis Capital has dealt with some of biotech's success stories like Organovo (ONVO), Alcobra (ADHD) and Stemline (STML). Adding Advaxis to this list is an encouraging sign for shareholders.
Choice for Investors
Having both the shares and warrants of Advaxis trade on The NASDAQ CM gives investors several ways to play the potential upside of the company. The Advaxis warrants (ADXSW) offer an opportunity to trade with volatile instruments that act like an option chain. This way, investors can utilize warrants, stock or a combination of both to hedge or speculate on Advaxis' future. In any case, having choice will garner greater attention and, as a result, increase liquidity.
Listing its shares on The NASDAQ, a premier U.S. equity market for trading emerging companies, allows Advaxis to see superior price discovery and liquidity while reducing trading volatility. This advancement would expose the company stock to retail and, more importantly, institutional investors who require the professed reputation of being listed on major national exchanges instead of the OTC markets. Many institutional investors and funds ("smart money") are restricted from taking positions in "speculative" OTC stocks due to their perceived risk profile. Upon uplisting, this would be relieved, allowing greater inflow of "smart money" investments and analyst coverage. For a company like Advaxis, which has been flying under the radar with minimal coverage, greater visibility could result in a price boom. This would be magnified if any sort of catalyst was realized.
Report final 18-month overall survival Phase II data of ADXS-HPV Cervical Cancer at the SITC Annual Meeting
Pending response for breakthrough therapy designation to the investigational new drug (IND) application submitted to the FDA for ADXS-HPV in the treatment of invasive cervical cancer
Pending Orphan Designation for ADXS-HPV Head & Neck Cancer
Pending appealed Orphan Designation for ADXS-HPV Invasive Cervical Cancer (denied in October 2013 as the target population estimate exceeded the statutory maximum allowed)
Finalize definitive agreement to license ADXS-HPV for commercialization in Asia (except India) with Yenson.
Finalize licensing deal with animal health division of major pharmaceutical company for ADXS-cHER2
Advance ADXS-PSA into a Phase 1 trial to determine the maximum tolerated dose
In theory, the capital raise of ~$20 million should bring ADXS market cap to $50 million. Given its diverse pipeline and clinical progress, in addition to the capital raise, ADXS has a mispriced valuation. For comparison sake, other immunotherapy companies in similar stages of development, and with adjacent financials, are priced at valuations almost triple Advaxis'. ImmunoCellular (IMUC) and Northwest Bio (NWBO) sport market caps of $140 and $120, respectively. The undervalued Advaxis stock is apparent when matched with the fair value of competitors who are worth well over $100 million.
The Dan O'Connor era has been a pleasant ride for shareholders who stuck with Advaxis through the sting caused by former (mis)management. NASDAQ uplisting represents a turnaround in the making for the immunotherapy company as greater visibility and a long list of catalysts will ensure the company has enough drivers of growth to continue its uptrend. Interested investors should assess the company thoroughly before jumping into a microcap stock. Existing investors realize this is a new chapter for Advaxis, they're just hoping for a fairy tale ending this time around.