Andreas Halvorsen (Trades, Portfolio)’s hedge fund Viking Global Investors increased its stake in pharmaceutical company Esperion Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ESPR) by 875.1% on June 18, GuruFocus Real Time Picks reported Monday.
Founded in 2008, Esperion makes treatments for heart disease patients who experience intolerable side effects from existing drugs. Halvorsen holds 1,335,101 shares of the company, a 5.9% stake, after the increase. He began the position in the first quarter with 136,919 shares.
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Esperion’s share price rose more than 406% over the past 12 months as one of its treatments, ETC-1002, advanced toward FDA approval with plans to reach Phase 3 development before year end. Two other drugs are in its pipeline in preclinical stage.
The company ended the first quarter with $322.7 million in cash on its balance sheet, up from $141.6 million at the end of 2014. Esperion estimated that its cash reserves would enable it to operate through 2018 and the anticipated approval of ETC-1002. The company also carried $5.0 million in outstanding debt.
With a $1.86 billion market cap, Esperion has a P/B ratio of 5.55.
Halvorsen bought one biotechnology stock in addition to Esperion in the first quarter, ProQR Therapeutics NV (NASDAQ:PRQR). He sold out of three other positions in the sector: Shire PLC (NASDAQ:SHPG), ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ACAD) and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXN). Two more remained in his portfolio: Receptos INc. (RCPT) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:VRTX).