“The company believes it is making strong scientific and commercial progress across all its technology and product platforms”
Stephen O’Hara, chief executive
What it does
It has three main compounds that it is working to commercialise:
- LPLDL – a probiotic strain that has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure
- SlimBiome – a weight management system that promotes a healthy metabolism and the feeling of fullness
- SweetBiotix – a patented, natural, low calorie alternative to sugar
How is it doing?
The aim of OptiBiotix is for its compounds to become the ‘Intel of food’. In other words, Opti wants its compounds to be a key ingredient in other foods, supplements, and tablets.
For that to happen, the company needs to do three things: manufacture its compounds, formulate them (put them into tablets, foods etc), and then distribute them.
To that end, Opti has signed a series of manufacturing and supply agreements around the world, and the number of deals has ratcheted up over the past six months or so.
In June, it struck a licensing deal with Canadian giant Agropur, which gives the latter the exclusive right to manufacture, supply and distribute SlimBiome in North America. There are also commercial agreements in place for SlimBiome in the UK and Europe, Thailand and India.
A few weeks later, OptiBiotix signed a non-exclusive license agreement with Tenshido, which now has permission to use the LPLDL strain in cardiovascular food supplements in Japan.
There are several products containing LPLDL being sold by numerous partners in more than 30 countries around the world.
As for SweetBiotix, recent studies have shown that the sweeteners not only have a clean flavour profile, but can also help to enhance healthy gut bacteria.
In partnership with a ‘well-known branded global beverage provider’, Opti is looking at how its science can help the manufacturer to lower the sugar and increase the fibre in its drinks.
Commercial and critical success has been backed up by a growing body of work that essentially burnishes the scientific credentials of its microbiome-targeting technology.
In the half-year report, turnover grew 169% year-on-year to £191,000. As is common for a company at this formative stage of its commercial development, OptiBiotix was loss-making.
The operating loss was just under £1.5mln, £627,906 less than the year earlier as administrative expenses fell 17.5%. At the period-end the firm had £1.33mln, rising to £1.67mln following the reclamation of R&D tax credits.
What the boss is saying
“The company believes it is making strong scientific and commercial progress across all its technology and product platforms,” said chief executive Stephen O’Hara, recently.
“With the manufacturing scale-up progressing for SweetBiotix and work on LPLDL certification as a product manufactured to pharmaceutical standard nearing completion (extending the opportunity into pharmaceutical sales), more products are entering the commercialisation phase.
“With current products winning awards for their science and product innovation and growing deal flow across international markets, the company is continuing to grow revenue streams across a broad deal pipeline.
“If most of these partners deliver on their forecasts, revenues will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.
“We are particularly pleased that, as the value of our brands increase internationally, we are seeing increased retail interest and a number of our larger corporate partners committing to product launches.
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Going forward, the plan is to explore similar demergers with the other divisions.
“Part of the process is building up these divisions, creating a separate legal entity and putting those on the stock market,” said CEO O’Hara.
“We did that with SkinBioTherapeutics already, and what we’ll do is give our shareholders a dividend, or dividend in specie – we’ve always promised that we’ll do that.”
What the analyst says
Brigitte de Lima, of goetzpartners, pointed out that the firm’s cholesterol-lowering supplement had recently passed two important milestones:
- Achievement of process validation under good manufacturing practices, a necessary step in developing LP-LDL as a pharmaceutical drug
- Confirmation of generally regarded as safe status by the US Food & Drug Administration
“Both milestones reflect Opti’s commitment to improving the quality of the science and manufacturing conditions for probiotics to bring them closer to pharmaceutical standards,” said de Lima in a recent note.
“They should increase LP-LDL's attractiveness to both food companies looking to differentiate their products with evidence-backed ingredients and pharma companies looking to target the microbiome with live bacteria.”
Using a sum-of-the-parts valuation that includes a risk-adjusted net present value, the goetzpartners number cruncher has set a 97p a share price target (Opti stock is currently changing hands for 64p).