There are many different situations in my portfolio and they all have one theme in common: potential. I'm here for the potential to change my life.
Pieris Pharmaceuticals (PIRS) is a "clinical-stage biotechnology company that discovers and develops Anticalin-based drugs to target validated disease pathways in unique and transformative ways". Agreements with a number of huge companies give PIRS total potential milestone payments of over 30x the current market cap, plus royalties! Sound interesting?
This post can be summarized with two pictures. First a list of collaborations from their most recent investor presentation:
And a long term chart showing agreements overlayed with the total potential milestone payments and partner investments.
PIRS is a larger company than I usually write about.
- 63.3M shares common
- 14.4k shares preferred convertible into 1000 shares each
- so total diluted share count 77.7M shares
- fully diluted market cap $272M given share price around $3.50
And they have never turned a profit. The company has been selling shares to fund development as they work towards product. Last year PIRS brought in $29M in revenue while spending $47M on R&D. Talk about commitment to the future
I won't pretend to understand what they do beyond try to cure diseases. You can read about it in the 10k. It sounds impressive and makes me believe the sky is the limit.
What I do understand is upside. Look back at that price chart and the collaboration snapshot. One thing I see in that chart is news accelerating. Just in the past few months PIRS signed a deal with Boston Pharmaceuticals, took on investments from both Seagan and AstraZeneca, and signed a deal with Genentech. Those are major names with deep pockets. AstraZeneca has a market cap of $150B. Genentech is huge. It might be a coincidence but there sure is a lot of activity lately and it all seems so positive.
The AstraZeneca investment really interests me because the total potential milestone payments from AstraZeneca jumped from the deal's original $2.1B to $5.4B in May 2021, and it wasn't even disclosed in a filing that I can see, except for the May investor presentation. Even the Apr 2021 investor presentation still shows the $2B number. So AstraZeneca signed on a deal in 2017 and then in Mar 2021 made another milestone payment and invested $10M in PIRS. Then two months later their total potential milestone payments doubled. Sounds to me like things are going well.
And Seagen too. It's been 3 years since that deal was signed and now they are investing $13M into PIRS at $3.51 per share.
When I see this stuff my mind races. What happens if one of those programs hits and the payments start coming in? How about two? On top of the $8.8B in potential milestone payments PIRS is also entitled to royalties on all of those pograms. All that R&D spend must bring a steady stream of potential.
I'm surprised the stock isn't higher. The Genentech news pushed it up to 6 from the mid 2's and it's now fallen back to ~$3.50. The stock is the same as it was a year ago when the total potential milestone payments was $3.8B. Now that total is $8.8B which is 32x the market cap.
The risk here is the treatments don't work. The milestone payments don't come and PIRS has to dilute to keep the lights on. They've been losing money forever and that may continue. Downside is I lose the whole investment. A skeptic could look at my price chart above and ask we haven't made it to the promised land yet.
But what is the ceiling on this stock? It's higher than you can see with the naked eye, right? It's huge and that's why this is my kind of situation. Sure it might get cut in half if results don't come in. But on the other hand I could see this going up 10x, 20x, 30x. Feels like there is just too much going on for this stock to stay at $3.50. If I look out 5 or 10 years I have a hard time imagining the stock doesn't at least see double digits.
You know I like a good stock spike to sell into but PIRS is more than that. We might get spikes as we saw the other day when the Genentech deal was announced, but I'm hoping for business results. If PIRS can perform this is going way up.
Potential with a capital P.
Disclosure: long PIRS