Merck's $10.8B deal for Prometheus will further diversify revenue base - analysts

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Merck's $10.8B deal for Prometheus will further diversify revenue base - analysts
Credit: © Reuters.

By Senad Karaahmetovic

Merck (NYSE: MRK ) announced yesterday it agreed to acquire Prometheus Biosciences (NASDAQ: RXDX ) for $200 per share, valuing the company specialized in developing precision therapies for immune-mediated diseases at $10.8 billion.

“The agreement with Prometheus will accelerate our growing presence in immunology where there remains substantial unmet patient need. This transaction adds diversity to our overall portfolio and is an important building block as we strengthen the sustainable innovation engine that will drive our growth well into the next decade,” Robert Davis, Chairman and CEO of Merck said.

The agreed price represents a ~75% premium to Prometheus’ closing price on Friday, April 14. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023.

Prometheus’ key franchise is PRA023, described by Goldman Sachs analysts as a “novel, potential first-in-class TL1A antagonist (biologic) for which RXDX has reported (in 4Q22) strongly positive Phase 2 data in both ulcerative colitis (UC, ARTEMIS-UC trial) and Crohn's disease (CD, APOLLO-CD trial) which suggest (based on both efficacy and safety results, noting all the caveats relating to cross-trial comparisons) best-in-class potential if similarly demonstrated in Phase 3 studies which are poised to begin this year.”

On the deal itself, the analysts believe the logic for Merck is to diversify the company’s portfolio and strengthen visibility on the company's end-of-decade (i.e., post-2028 Keytruda LOE) revenue growth outlook.

“The RXDX deal would add meaningfully to the company's rebuilding of its pipeline and presence in the autoimmune disease space - noting the company's Pandion acquisition in 2021,” the analysts added.

Mizuho analysts agreed and said the deal demonstrates Merck’s continued efforts to diversify the revenue base.

“MRK should have additional Phase IIIready clinical programs in 2023, with substantial revenue potential, adding to the potential to diversify MRK's revenue base. This, in combination with the growing cardiovascular portfolio (sotatercept/PAH) and MK-0616/ hypercholesterolemia), could be meaningful contributors to positive sentiment and valuation expansion,” they said in a note.

Merck shares are down about 1.2% while Prometheus shares have surged over 70% in premarket Monday.


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