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Small-Cap Snapshot: Viking Therapeutics soars on success of mid-stage trial for liver disease treatment

Nexeo, Thor Industries and Playa Hotels & Resorts are also moving in the trading session
Man looking into microscope
Viking's Phase 2 study evaluated its drug therapy VK2809 in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

The small-cap indices are having a good day with both the Russell 2000 and the S&P 600 on the rise.

Shares of Viking Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VKTX) are skyrocketing thanks to rosy results for a mid-stage trial of its treatment for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The clinical-stage biotech said a Phase 2 trial evaluating the use of VK2809, its liver-selective thyroid receptor beta agonist, in patients with both NAFLD and elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) was successful and met its primary goal of paring back LDL-C. The study also significantly reduced patients’ liver fat content. VK2809 was well-tolerated over the twelve-week trial and no serious adverse effects were reported. The results of the trial are being submitted for a presentation at The Liver Meeting in San Francisco, which kicks off on November 9.

Viking shares climbed 84% to US$19.11.

The chemical and plastics distributor Nexeo (NASDAQ:NXEO) is gaining ground on news of its takeover by larger rival Univar in a cash-and-stock deal valued at US$2bn, including debt. The company was last acquired for about US$1.6bn two years ago by a company then run by Wilbur Ross, who is now the US commerce secretary. Under this deal’s terms, each NXEO share will be converted into 0.305 shares of UNVR stock and US$3.29 in cash, which amounts to a purchase price of US$11.65 per share. At the price of US$11.56 per share, the takeover throws up a 15% premium over the Nexeo shares’ closing price of US$10.01 on Monday. The boards of the two companies have already signed off on the deal. 

Nexeo rose 13.7% to US$11.38.

Read: IPO Roundup: Luxury fashion e-commerce platform Farfetch’s IPO may raise more than US$600mln

Thor Industries (NYSE:THO) is popping after agreeing to acquire the German RV maker Erwin Hymer Group SE in a cash-and-stock deal worth about US$2.2bn. The deal paves the way for Thor to enter the European market. Erwin Hymer, which was founded in southern German back in 1923, kicked off revenues of more than 2.5bn euros in the year until the close of August and also boasts a 20% share of the European market, according to Reuters. The company offers a range of RVs that range from mobile trailers to motorhomes.

Thor shares added 5.7% to US$102.96

Playa Hotels & Resorts NV (NASDAQ:PLYA) is taking a tumble on the announcement that it has formed a strategic alliance with the hotel behemoth Hilton. As part of the tie-up, two Playa resorts — The Royal Playa del Carmen in Mexico and the Dreams La Romana in the Dominican Republic — will be converted to Hilton all-inclusive resorts. The two companies also have plans to open as many as eight additional resorts together by 2025. Particularly alarming for investors is the accompanying news that partly as a result of its rebranding as well as competition, Playa expects its 2018 and 2019 Ebitda outlooks to decrease by US$4.5mln and US$26mln, respectively.

Playa Hotels dipped 5% to US$9.10.


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