Shares of Titan Pharmaceuticals (TTNP) have traded in a relative range between sixty five and eighty cents since mid-April of this year, but a nice bump in volume over the past four trading sessions has once again helped the stock bash through the dollar barrier. Investors who had been counting on the company landing a partner for Probuphine - a subcutaneous treatment for opioid addiction that utilizes Titan's proprietary ProNeura drug delivery system - were time and again disappointed by no news, leading to the share price slip to the sixties earlier this year.
Still, no hope came in the company's latest quarterly report, filed last month. Since Titan officials had previously indicated that the company would file for a Probuphine approval in 2012, however, it was quickly becoming crunch time to land a partner - and investors wondered once again if Titan could rise from the proverbial ashes, as it had just years before when the company was all but written off.
With the Probuphine filing still expected to take place, partner or not, within months, Titan shares were tipped during last week's stock watch for the potential to rebound on the news. Titan trumped those expectations, however, and released news that the company had "entered into a Stock Purchase and Option Agreement with an affiliate of the potential licensee of the rights to commercialize Probuphine."
Additionally, last Friday's press release revealed that "Titan sold 3,400,000 shares of its common stock at $1.25 per share and agreed to an exclusive option period to execute the proposed licensing agreement (to October 31, 2012, which, if needed, can be extended to December 31, 2012) so that the potential partner can complete certain internal tasks."
The news was received as a huge sign of validation by investors that Titan would make good on its partnership promise and shares soared accordingly, hitting the dollar mark within days of the release on monumental volume - when compared to the stock's normal trading numbers. Although a partnership deal is not yet finalized, the up-front stock and purchase agreement are indicative that both sides are intending to quickly seal the deal. That said, given the timing of the news release and the stock purchase agreement, it's safe to assume that the two sides are close.
As mentioned above, it is still expected that in October the company will file with the FDA for the approval of Probuphine and it now looks like the company could have some high-profile backing in doing so. Probuphine - also being investigated for the treatment chronic pain - would be the first product brought to market by the company, although Titan had a royalty agreement with Vanda Pharmaceuticals' (VNDA) for the schizophrenia drug Fanapt. Fanapt has had a disappointing commercial and is relatively irrelevant to Titan now as the result of some funding agreements with a creditor over the past year.
With the partnership deal all but finalized, though, Titan has regained some lost credibility with shareholders and is again a relevant player as a potential growth and rebound story - if not a buyout candidate, too. The ProNeura drug delivery technology alone could be worth a bundle to a larger pharmaceutical company, given the trend towards controlled-release delivery platforms due to the swift crackdown on abuse and misuse of prescription drugs.
Now back in the ball game, developments could come quick. The Probuphine filing should now be considered imminent as is the expectations of a finalization of partnership talks. The volume that has been moving the stock is for real, as was the move back to a dollar so it may again be time to entertain the thoughts that this stock could return to its 52-week highs, if not surpass them.
Should investors expect the monumental gains realized when shares ran from a penny to two bucks a few years ago? Probably not, but if Probuphine makes it past the FDA and if the partnership deal does in fact play out, then it's likely that another upside move could take shape.
As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over 'til it's over," so nothing is a done deal until it's a done deal, so it's still worth entertaining the risk - but it looks like Titan is back on track, and those that took advantage of the dip into the sixties are already sitting pretty.
Disclosure: Long TTNP.
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