I was having trouble getting to sleep tonight so I thought I would very briefly write about Benitec (ASX: BLT).
I have watched this company for a long time and, to me, it epitomises the very worst of what the ASX has to offer. BLT claims to have fundamental intellectual property ownership of gene silencing / RNAi but I find this really hard to believe given that there are plenty of companies developing RNAi drugs but nobody seems to be fazed by Benitec. Is Alnylam lining up to do a deal? No. Also this kind of technology is not just about the molecule that is doing the “business” but also a delivery system that enables the therapeutic to ultimately be successful. It’s complicated and very tough to develop this sort of drug and there have been a lot of failures to date.
As an aside note, the CEO of the company is an impressive academic and an off-scale bright guy but not the sort of character you want to put in front of the camera for an investor presentation unless – like me – you also struggle to sleep at night. “Boring beyond compare” is what I have heard the analysts say. This also impacts my view of the company, I am ashamed to admit. I accept the fact that this comment is a bit superficial and petty, but it’s true. That’s life when you are an early-stage public company. The CEO is on show… salesman-in-chief and all that…
The truth is, I never thought this company would raise more money, but miraculously it did. Amazing! Mainly because the Hepatitis C space has been so frothy the last few years and if you want to raise money, “swim where the water flows”, right? But as I have mentioned in previous posts – I despise companies that can’t decide what they are. Is BLT a cancer company? An infectious disease company? An AMD company? What is it? Does anyone out there holding BLT stock realise that you can’t develop all of these markets and indications under one roof?
The stupidest thing about BLT is that we have plenty of new drugs in the Hep C space. We are not in the PEG-interferon or ribaviron world anymore, there are lots of exciting new drugs, even in Australia, and even under PBS. 9/10 patients with virtually any degree of severity/genotype of Hep C are able to be treated (= cured) and with the sheer amount of investment and progress in terms of new drug approvals in this space over the past 5 years, Benitec has simply missed the boat. Moreover, doing clinical trials for this indication are an absolute nightmare because of the revised standard of care.
I wouldn’t buy 10 shares of this company, mainly because I like crispy bacon with lettuce, tomato and wholemeal bread – and it costs about the same…
PS: What kind of a loser company reports to the public markets on a patient-by-patient basis??? Seriously!