Esperion Therapeutics Showing Volatility Leading into Clinical Trial Announcement


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Esperion Therapeutics Inc. [$ESPR] had a strong showing earlier this week.  The drug development company saw its stock rally a little more than 18 percent on Tuesday.  Investors are anticipating clinical trial results this month on the company's lead drug candidate, a fact that should lead to significant volatility in the near term.

There are few events on Wall Street that create greater volatility than the release of clinical trial data for drug stocks.  Esperion is a stock that has shown significant volatility in the past and the prospect of upcoming trial results could lead to significant moves in the near term.

Esperion has a cholesterol drug in the pipeline.  The proposed medicine, called Bempedoic acid, is designed to lower elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and to avoid side effects associated with existing LDL-C lowering therapies.  The drug is meant to help cholesterol in patients who cannot take statins, probably the most well-known cholesterol medicines.

The company is slated to report results from its phase I and phase II clinical studies of  added-on to high-dose statins this month.

Bempedoic acid is the company's lead product candidate.  Esperion has no revenue at the current time and reported a quarterly loss of $14.04 million in its last earnings report, which came out in August.  At the time, it had cash and cash equivalents of $274.8 million.  It expected to burn $65 to $75 million during 2016, and plans on having about $220 million in cash and cash equivalents left by the end of the year.

The stock has had some substantial setbacks in the last two years.  At one time, in March of 2015, it reached as high as $112.33 a share.  Now, even with the steep rise early this week, the stock is sitting below $13 a share (price at this writing: $12.85).

The slide over the last two years has come with a couple large one-day drops.

In June of 2015, the company suffered a sharp one-day decline on news of an FDA panel vote.  The advisory panel was voting on a different drug - it recommended approval of a medicine called Praluent - but the details of the panel's findings had implications for other cholesterol drugs, like Esperion's.

The news of the panel vote sent the stock down -$18.85 to $81.68.

Meanwhile, after the close of trading on June 28 this year, Esperion announced that the company had failed to reach an agreement with the FDA on a regulatory pathway for an LDL-C lowering indication in the U.S. on ETC-1002 in statin intolerant patients.

The stock fell dramatically on the news, dropping -$6.52 on the day to $9.66, reaching a new low.  Shares recovered a bit from there, eventually posting the notable gain this week ahead of the results.

Above is a table representing the option expirations for ESPR and their implied market values. To learn more, visit the Options Summary for ESPR.