IMV: Top Pick for the fourth consecutive quarter

In a July 9 research note, analyst Douglas Loe reported that Echelon Wealth Partners designated IMV Inc. (IMV:TSX; IMMVD:OTCQX) a Top Pick for the fourth consecutive quarter. Since the biotech first earned the status, in September 2017, its stock “is up cumulatively by 91.8% and, even more dramatically, by 188.5% since we initiated coverage on IMV back in September 2016,” he wrote.

Loe indicated that IMV’s share price appreciation of 7.6% in Q2/18 “is hardly disappointing” but “does fall below our original expectations” arrived at in anticipation of the Phase 2 update on the company’s lead drug DPX-Survivac to be given at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in June 2018. The market responded to the update “a bit more skeptically” than Echelon did, Loe added, leading investors to view DPX-Survivac cautiously and, in turn, causing the stock to fall short of expectations.

Loe highlighted that Echelon disagreed with the market’s interpretation of the update, believing the trial update warranted a positive, rather than guarded, position on the drug’s prospects. Particularly compelling was the new information that DPX-Survivac likely facilitates T cell tumor infiltration, which the update “signaled,” and perhaps enhances this effect by simultaneously inhibiting the PD1/PD-L1 pathway. Further supporting Echelon’s stance, Loe added, is the response rate in the ongoing study of ovarian patients, which “was relatively strong in our view for this patient population.”

Loe reminded readers that the study update data revealed six of eight patients treated with combination DPX-Survivac and high dose epacadostat showed stable disease to Day 56. At Day 140, two of the patients demonstrated evidence of tumor response, “an encouraging though early sign of time-dependent, immunologically based, anticancer activity achievable with DPX-Survivac-based therapy,” he added.

The analyst reiterated that Echelon remains encouraged by the findings that tumor progression in treated patients was infrequent and equivalent to the number of patients who experienced partial response or stable disease while on DPX-Survivac and low dose epacadostat. He concluded, “We maintain our view that cumulative tumor response data to the level achieved so far for DPX-Survivac-treated recurrent ovarian cancer patients is medically relevant and merits further study.”

Regarding the interaction between DPX-Survivac and the PD1/PD-L1 pathway, clinical studies that aim to investigate this are underway, for which interim data could be available in Q3/18, noted Loe.

In general, Echelon is bullish on IMV’s DepoVax platform because “other DPX-formulated antigens have generated encouraging updates in recent quarters from other co-development partners,” including Zoetis and Leidos, Loe said.

Looking forward, a potential Q3/18 catalyst is elucidation on how DPX-Survivac performs in ovarian cancer and B cell lymphoma patients when administered in combination with Keytruda. Were tumor response data from those two trials positive, they would be “highly validating for how DPX-Survivac’s T cell-mediated antitumor activity could be enhanced by supplementally impacting tumor immunology through PD1/PD-L1 inhibition,” commented Loe.

Echelon maintained its Speculative Buy rating and CA$12.25 per share price target on IMV. The latter implies an 87.3% return as the stock is currently trading at around CA$6.39 per share.

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