Agenus Inc (AGEN): QVT Financial Trims Its Passive Stake as It Gains Value

Daniel Gold‘s QVT Financial has reduced its stake in Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) by around 2.34 million shares, as a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed. QVT has sold the securities in multiple transactions, the average price amounting to $5.31 per share. Following the disposal, the investor holds a passive stake that contains 6.92 million shares, which represent 9.82% of the company’s outstanding common stock.


Daniel Gold’s QVT Financial managed around $4 billion in assets, out of which it has commited some $1.94 billion towards its equity portfolio. The fund uses a fundamental and quantitavely-oriented trading approach in order to beat the market. The fund has a diversified equity portfolio that contains more than 80 positions as of the end of September 2014. A couple of months ago, the fund boosted its exposure to Arrowhead Research Corp (NASDAQ:ARWR) to 3.12 million shares, equal to 5.90% of the company’s stock. Meanwhile, the stock appreciated by around 7% since the fund almost doubled its position from 1.87 million shares it held earlier. The company, however, had an impressive 50% growth until January 9, followed by a big slump after which it lost 20% of its value. In addition, according to its latest 13F filing, the largest long position in QVT’s equity portfolio is represented by Tenet Healthcare Corp (NYSE:THC), which saw its stock grow by more than 40% as the fund has been an investor of the company, as the fund increased its stake from 1.2 million shares held initially to 1.4 million shares reported as of the end of September 2014.

Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) is a $380 million biotechnology stock that has been in QVT’s equity portfolio since the first quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, the stock almost doubled in value over the last 52 weeks, which is probably why the investor has trimmed its position and obtained some cash that could be diversified into other investments. Aside from QVT, Samuel Isaly‘s Orbimed Advisors and Kevin Kotler‘s Broadfin Capital, two healthcare-focused  investors also initiated stakes in Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) during the first quarter of last year. However, Orbimed trimmed its stake during the second quarter and left it unchanged at 3.57 million shares at the end of September, while Broadfin sold out its entire stake during the third quarter, previously holding 1.18 million shares.

Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) is engaged in development and commercialization of different technologies aimed towards treating cancer and infectious diseases. During last year, the company reported strong financial performance with its revenue for the first nine months jumping to $5.36 million from $2.65 million a year ago, while its net loss narrowed to $0.28 per share from $0.99 per share. Aside from financial situation, the company has also had some positive developments over the last year, such as the submission of regulatory application of a malaria vaccine candidate to the European Medicines Agency by its partner GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK). In addition, in December, Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) reported that GSK had obtained successful results from its ZOE-50 Phase 3 study of the Shingles Vaccine. Both vaccines contain GSK’s Adjuvant System, AS01, one of the key components of which is QS-21 Stimulon developed by Agenus, with the latter being able to receive royalties from the future sales of the vaccines.

Moreover, as the stock of Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) managed to return 90% over the last year, beating the biotechnology industry, which have had an average return of 30% over the last 52 weeks, analysts also seem to be bullish on the company’s prospects as the stock currently sports a consensus ‘Buy’ rating and a price target of $7.60. Last week, HC Wainright, MLV & Co, and Maxim Group, set their price targets for the stock that amount to $6.00, $9.00 and $11.00 with ‘Buy’ ratings.

In this way, even though QVT Financial has trimmed its position in Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN), it still has reasons to be bullish on the company, although its risk is pretty small, since the position amasses around 1% of its total equity portfolio value.

Disclosure: none