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Biotech Shares Have Soared Since 2020's Wave of IPOs

Atea tops list of biotechs that went public in 2020

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Feb 17, 2021
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Indicative of investors' enthusiasm for new biotechs, the average gain in share price for the top 10 companies of the sector that went public in 2020 now tops 100%.

Atea Pharmaceuticals

Capturing the #1 spot is Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AVIR), which started trading on Oct. 30 at an IPO price of $24 and has since climbed 250% to more than $84. The Boston-based company's public debut netted $300 million, a large part of which is being used to perform more work on its Covid-19 drug in late-stage clinical trials, according to an article in FierceBiotech. This company's treatment is backed by the Swiss pharma giant Roche (RHHBY), which has an agreement with Atea to jointly develop, manufacture and distribute an oral medication that interferes with the RNA of several viruses.

Nkarta Inc.

Up more than 200% since joining the public ranks is Nkarta Inc. (NKTX), a six-year-old South San Francisco biopharma company. Nkarta raised $252 million during its upsized IPO in July. The company will use the funds to push its cancer therapies into clinical trials. Last year, the company dosed its first patient in the phase 1 trial of its leading asset, NKX101, a cancer immunotherapy that could prove superior to other treatments for certain blood cancers.

In the first quarter, Nkarta expects to file an investigational new drug application for its second cell therapy designed to go after tumors expressing a certain antigen for treating B-cell malignancies.

Avidity Biosciences Inc.

Finishing at the bottom of the list with a gain in share price of only 11% is Avidity Biosciences Inc. (RNA). The company planned to raise $100 million in its public debut but shot well past that, raking in $259 million. Like many other biotechs, the company is working on antibody-drug conjugates aimed at killing cancer cells without affecting healthy tissue.

Avidity has a deal with Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY) to collaborate on treatments for immunology and other indications. Avidity could collect up to $405 million per target in development and commercialization milestones, plus royalties, according to an Eli Lilly news release. Avidity also has a research agreement with MyoKardia Inc. (MYOK), the wholly-owned subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY).

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Caption: Shares of Atea Pharmaceuticals and Nkarta have soared since their 2020 IPOs.

Legend Biotech Corp.

Just ahead at 27% is China's Legend Biotech Corp. (LEGN). Legend, too, substantially exceeded its goal of $100 million in its IPO, hitting $424 million, the second-highest last year. That should help the company push ahead a pipeline led by a drug from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which has agreed to pay Legend $350 million, half the development costs. J&J will also pay Legend half the profits from global sales, with the Chinese biotech taking 70% of the gains in China

Following is a complete list of the top 10 biotech IPOs for 2020, as provided by FierceBiotech.

1. AbCellera Biologics Inc. (ABCL)

Deal size: $483 million

Valuation: $5 billion

IPO Share price: $20.00

Current share price: $44.04

2. Legend Biotech Corp.

Deal size: $424 million

Valuation: $3.2 billion

IPO share price: $23.00

Current share price: $25.45

3. Relay Therapeutics Inc. (RLAY)

Deal size: $400 million

Valuation: $1.8 billion

Share price: $20.00

Current share price: $44.25

4. Atea Pharmaceuticals

Deal size: $300 million

Valuation: $1.9 billion

Share price: $24.00

Current share price: $84.15

5. Forma Therapeutics Holdings Inc. (FMTX)

Deal size: $278 million

Valuation: $784 million

Share price: $20.00

Current share price: $39.82

6. AlloVir

Deal size: $276 million

Valuation: $1.1 billion

Share price: $17.00

Current share price: $41.55

7. ADC Therapeutics (ADCT)

Deal size: $276 million

Valuation: $1.3 billion

Share price: $19.00

Current share price: $31.43

8. Avidity Biosciences

Deal size: $216 million

Valuation: $259 million

Share price: $18.00

Current share price: $22.95

9. Nkarta Inc.

Deal size: $252 million

Valuation: $584 million

Share price: $18.00

Current share price: $55.63

10. Annexon Inc. (ANNX)

Deal size: $251 million

Valuation: $612 million

Share price: $17.00

Current share price: $27.16

Disclosure: The author has positions in Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers, Johnson & Johnson, and Annexon.

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