Equity Research




Exicure, Inc.

XCUR / NasdaqCM / $1.03

March 23, 2020


Business Overview



Exicure, Inc. (the Company) is developing nucleic acid therapeutics based on its proprietary Spherical Nucleic Acid (SNA) technology platform. SNAs are dense, radial arrangements of synthetic nucleic acids on a nanoparticle. They enter cells via ubiquitous scavenger receptors, allowing high cell uptake, extra-hepatic delivery (shown in both humans and mice), and enhanced stability inside cells. SNAs can be delivered locally or topically to target tissues, thereby expanding the potential application of nucleic acid therapeutics.


The Company has an extensive development pipeline. It includes immune-oncology (AST-008 for Merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma), neurology (XCUR-FXN for Friedreichs ataxia), and dermatology (XCUR17 for inflammatory disorders, netherton syndrome, and hair loss disorders).


The SNA technology platform has already demonstrated significant success with its partnership initiatives:



Exicure and Dublin-based Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Limited initiated a partnership in late 2019 to discover and develop two SNA-based treatments for hair loss disorders. Exicure will incur all costs for discovery prior to an Allergan option exercise, following which Allergan will be responsible for all follow-on costs. In addition to up to $725 million in upfront and milestone payments, tiered royalties were set at percentages in the range of mid-single digits to mid-teens.



In early 2019, the Company and Dermelix Biotherapeutics initiated a partnership targeting Netherton syndrome and up to five other rare skin indications. In addition to up to $166 million in milestone payments per indication, royalties on annual net sales were set at percentages in the low double digits.


Encouraging preclinical studies provide a basis for exploration of therapies for many ophthalmological genetic disorders. There are approximately 250 rare disorders of the eye with known genetic targets, and SNAs may have advantages over gene therapies.


The intellectual property portfolio is extensive, including an exclusive worldwide license to make, use, and sell SNAs for therapeutic applications. The Company holds more than 85 issued or allowed patents and 125+ pending applications across multiple nucleic acid modalities.



2020 Focus



Planned Q2 launches of an AST-008 Phase 2 trial for Merkel cell carcinoma and an AST-009 Phase 2 trial for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.


Launch IND enabling studies late in the year for XCUR-FXN in Friedreichs ataxia.


Advance the Allergan collaboration in hair loss disorders and the Dermelix collaboration in Netherton syndrome.


Expand preclinical activities in neurology and ophthalmology.



Management and Directors



The backgrounds of the management and directors are outlined on the Exicure website and SEC filings. The BoD consists of eight non-employee members and David A. Gilhohann, CEO. The Company also maintains a prestigious Advisory Board, whose backgrounds are detailed on the Exicure website.


David A. Giljohann, CEO and a director, was the Exicure founding scientist in 2011 and the founding scientist of AuraSense, LLC in 2009. AuraSense is the largest Exicure shareholder.






Income Statement (12 months through 12/31/19 vs. 12/31/18)


Collaboration revenue: 1,296,000 vs. 118,000

R&D expense: 19,340,000 vs. 14,119,000

Other operating expense: 8,573,000 vs. 7.818.000

Operating income (loss): (26,617,000) vs (21,819,000)

Other income (expense): 314,000 vs. (594,000)

Net income (loss) attributable to Exicure, Inc.: (26,303,000) vs. (22,413,000)

Earnings (loss) per basic and diluted common share: (0.46) vs. (0.54)



Balance Sheet (12/31/19)


Cash & equivalents: 48,460,000

Short-term investments: 62,326,000

Total current assets: 112,776,000

Current portion of long-term debt: 4,956,000

Total current liabilities: 31,087,000

Common stock warrant liability: 414,000

Total liabilities: 34,516,000

Stockholders equity: 80,747,000

Number of common shares outstanding (03/05/20): 87,150,447



On December 23, 2019, the company closed an underwritten public offering of 10,000,000 of its common shares at a price per share of $2.75. Net proceeds were $25.3 million. The shares were offered pursuant to an effective shelf registration. On January 6, 2020, the Company sold an additional 1,081,184 shares at $2.75 per share pursuant to exercise of the option by the underwriters to purchase additional shares ($2.8 million net proceeds).



Valuation Considerations



The Company maintains a robust R&D effort that has a proven record of advancing the development pipeline.


The year-end 2019 working capital position was strong, and partnerships and licensing could cushion future R&D spending. Management expects that its working capital will be sufficient to fund Company operations into early 2022.


With the late December 2019 offering of new shares by the Company and the more-recent crash in the overall market, Exicure shares are presently more than 70% below their mid-December 2019 level.


The impact of COVID-19 remains an uncertainty. In addition, the Company website and regulatory filings detail a number of risk factors, and these are hereby incorporated by reference.






Executive offices: 8045 Lamon Avenue, Suite 410, Skokie, IL 60077. Phone: 847.673.1700.


Investor contact: David Snyder, Chief Financial Officer.


PDF Version





TickerBuzz, LLC ("TickerBuzz"), a Florida limited liability company is the author of this Profile. TickerBuzz is not and does not act as a broker-dealer, investment advisor, placement agent, or crowdfunding portal. Furthermore, it does not offer any securities, nor does it provide any investment advice or analysis. The source material for this Profile is the Company presentation materials. Certain information, particularly information relating to future performance and other business matters, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. TickerBuzz cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties that may change over time and cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed herein. The forward-looking statements are neither predictions nor guarantees of future events or performance. TickerBuzz has no obligation to update any forward-looking statements after they are made, except as required by applicable law. All of this information is intended for discussion purposes only, is not a solicitation to buy or sell any security, and must not be relied upon for financial, legal, tax, or any other professional advice. This company has not paid TickerBuzz any compensation for publication of this Profile. Analyst: William J. Ritger.



TickerBuzz, LLC


Contact: William J. Ritger, writger@gmail.com, 561.891.1903

Copyright 2020. TickerBuzz, LLC. All rights reserved.