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In the past few months we have seen Amarin (AMRN) mature from a small biotech hoping for a suitor to one with many options to make sure they find the right suitor.

In late December Wedbush raised their target price from $7 to $10 because they expect Amarin to report positive top-line data from the ANCHOR study in Q2 and that with this could possibly lead to a buyout of the company in 2011. In early February, Jefferies also rated AMRN a buy. An analyst on CNBC also discussed Amarin in detail and had a $12 price target on the stock

Bigger pharma companies are willing to give a premium to Amarin because they see that a lot of generic drugs will be entering the market soon. This is why a buyout or acquisition of Amarin could be a top priority for a larger company.

The speculation continued to grow as on Jan 11, Bloomberg reported that Amarin reported that talks had continued to grow amongst at least a dozen interested parties who were said to be interested. The CEO of Amarin commented he had more companies interested in Amarin than the 17 employees he currently staffed.

On February 2, as a followup to being a potential takeover/acquisition target, Amarin hired an industry veteran in Paul Huff as their chief commercial officer. His responsibility is to drive AMR101 commercialization strategy, but his key role is also in evaluating potential strategic partnerships for commercialization. Wall street likes him because of his prior success as the VP of marketing with Reliant Pharmaceuticals where his key role was in the commercialization and launch of Lovaza.

What this tells investors is that the interest in Amarin will gear up shortly as we enter the last month of the Q1 and prepare to hear results from the ANCHOR study in early Q2.

It is important to keep in mind that positive ANCHOR results are potentially game-changing for Amarin, as the potential patient population is much larger than the MARINE trial and, more importantly, than the patient population that can be treated with Lovaza. Although we will have to wait until next quarter to see the results, the data from the MARINE trial gave us a hint of what to expect. Specifically the efficacy of AMR 101 was greater in the statin-treated group in the MARINE trial and the patient population in the ANCHOR trial is comprised of patients who are taking a statin to lower cholesterol.

The principal investigator in the marine trial stated:

"Another surprise to me was the degree of TG-lowering efficacy in the statin-treated group, which exceeded the TG lowering in the non-statin treated group."

The company has mentioned in previous presentations that their priorities for 2011 include:

  • Presentation of the MARINE trial's complete data set at an appropriate scientific conference and securing various publications of the data;
  • Announcement of the top-line data for the ANCHOR trial in the second quarter of 2011;
  • Filing an NDA for AMR101 in 2011;
  • Building a foundation for commercializing AMR101; and
  • Qualifying additional suppliers to establish greater supply diversification and capacity in preparation for AMR101 launch .

AMRN has a busy Upcoming Investor Conference Schedule:

  • Leerink Swann Hot Topics Conference (New York City, February 16)
  • CITI Healthcare Conference (New York City, March 2)
  • RBC Capital Markets Healthcare Conference (New York City, March 2)
  • ROTH Growth Conference (Laguna Niguel, March 14)
  • Needham & Company’s Heathcare Conference (New York City, April 5).

The next few months will be an extremely busy time for Amarin as they will be on the road talking about the potential of their AMR101 compound in anticipation of the Phase III results for their ANCHOR study. We definitely have not heard the last of Amarin as this is just the beginning of a potentially blockbuster story.

Disclosure: I am long AMRN.

Additional disclosure: My position in a stock can change at any time.

Source: Acquisition Talks of Amarin Continue to Progress