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VolitionRx shares gain on Buy recommendation, Ritter initiated at Buy too

VolitionRx shares gain on Buy recommendation, Ritter initiated at Buy too
VolitionRx given EU approvals for colorectal cancer screening triage test

VolitionRx Ltd (NYSEMKT:VNRX) shares rose by 5% on Wednesday after the stock was reiterated a “buy” with a 12-month price target of $10.00 by brokers at Rodman & Renshaw on Wednesday.

The broker also said it believed VolitionRx has sufficient finance to fund operations into 2018.

The shares were last up 4.2% at $4.99, having earlier scaled $5.09, their highest level since mid-October.

“Yesterday, VolitionRx announced that the company had received the CE Mark designation for its Nu.Q colorectal cancer (CRC) screening triage test on December 28, 2016, in line with management’s original timeline. The CE Mark enables this blood-based test to be sold in all 28 EU countries in 2017. Investors may recall that this triage test is to be used when a patient has a positive fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and is able to detect 97% of colorectal cancer and reduce the use of colonoscopy by 25%,” the broker said in a note.

Read VolitionRx cancer diagnostic test achieves CE Marking, preps for Europe launch

Rodman also reminded investors “that the triage test is likely not useful in the US as FIT is not widely used here. We believe the company is still committed to developing an independent CRC blood test panel to be launched as a front-line test for the US market. The company plans to conduct a clinical trial of approximately 600 patients for FDA 510(k) clearance. However, the company is likely to focus on the European markets in the near term.

Although no sales or earnings guidance has been given Rodman said it believed the company’s cash position—$24.2mln pro forma after the October 2016 financing—should fund operations into 2018. The company currently has 26.1mln shares outstanding.

Meanwhile, Rodman & Renshaw initiated coverage of Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:RTTR) with a “Buy” recommendation and price target of $7.00.

The broker said that the emerging biopharmaceutical company working in the gut microbiome field was “licking lactose intolerance with first-in-class Rx product.”

The broker added: “Ritter's lead product candidate, RP-G28, is a high-purity preparation of galactooligosaccharides (GOS). This agent is designed to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the human colon—such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli—that improve the gut's ability to break down lactose, the principal sugar found in milk and dairy products.”

There are currently no prescription medications aimed specifically at treating the symptoms of lactose intolerance, which affects the majority of the world's population. As much as 25% of the U.S. population may be afflicted with lactose intolerance, with 8-9mln people annually suffering moderate-to-severe symptoms that make them highly motivated to seek therapy.

“In our view, Ritter could bring to market the first prescription product for treatment of lactose intolerance symptoms. RP-G28 has the added benefit of being safe and well-tolerated, and has been tested in a Phase 2a trial, which generated positive proof-of-concept data in terms of both reduction in patient-reported lactose intolerance symptoms and an increase in the percentage of subjects who were free of abdominal pain. We expect Ritter to report top-line data in the coming days from a Phase 2/3 trial that enrolled 377 subjects with lactose intolerance symptoms, and which utilizes the same treatment period, follow-up period and efficacy readouts as the Phase 2a study.”

Ritter shares were up 0.5% at $2.90 on Wednesday.

There were other coverage initiations on Wednesday.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) were both initiated as a “Buy” from brokers at Guggenheim. Analysts said that next-generation automotive is a sector to watch as electrification and autonomous driving come into view and hailed the smartphone as "tech's most valuable piece of real estate."

Tesla shares were up 4.5% at $226.71 while Apple was down 0.07% at $116.07.

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