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UPDATE - Horizon Discovery rises as revenues look set to exceed forecasts

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Horizon Discovery Group (LON:HZD) said 2014 revenues will be some 7% ahead of forecast and 77% up on the year earlier, boosted by increased demand for its services and contributions from two recent acquisitions.

It marks a confident start to life on the markets for the life sciences group, which listed on AIM in March.

Ahead of today’s announcement analysts were predicting Horizon would post sales of £11mln.

The update also revealed the group is eligible to receive future R&D milestones of up to £158mln plus future product royalties (up from £120mln at the end of 2013).

It now provides 30 of the top 50 pharma and biotech companies with research tools, services and intellectual property including drug targets, drug biomarkers and drug candidates. This time last year the figure was 21. In total 961 organisations use its services, up from 353.

Its specialty is human gene editing, which in very basic terms means it is able to produce a pair of human cell lines identical with the exception of carefully selected mutations.

These cell lines act as a surrogate for a patient in a state of good health versus diseased health and enables drug makers to develop novel medicines that target the specific genetic drivers of a disease and implement shorter, less costly and targeted clinical trials.

The business is well funded with £17mln of cash.

Chief executive Darrin Disley said last year was transformational for Horizon as it expanded from a fast-growing private company with 80 employees located in Cambridge, to a fully integrated global public company with over 200 employees in the UK, US and Austria.

"We have enjoyed strong revenue growth in 2014, driven both organically and through the successful acquisitions of CombinatoRx and Sage Labs,” he added.

“Horizon has remained focused on becoming a fully-integrated life science company and, with the integration of recent acquisitions, is now able to provide service, product and R&D solutions to customers engaged in all stages of the personalized medicine paradigm from sequence to treatment.”

Panmure Gordon reiterated its ‘buy’ recommendation and upped its price target from 234p to 247p.

Having previously pencilled in sales of £11.1mln for 2014, the broker now expects the top line will rise to £11.7mln.

“The strength of demand in Horizon’s markets, coupled with the company’s ability to act as an enabling partner to its customers has underpinned the success, and we anticipate further growth in delivery as the recent acquisitions are bedded in,” Panmure Gordon analyst Dr Mike Mitchell said.

Dr Mitchell sees Horizon thriving in a life sciences environment which is making the transition towards developing more personalised medicine.

“The performance to December ahead of our expectations reaffirms our view of a robust business, led by a strong operational management team, in turn supported by a world-class Board. As such, we consider today’s announcement as evidence of strong foundations being laid for future growth,” Dr Mitchell concluded.

Shares in Horizon were up 4.9% at 235p in afternoon trading.

Quick facts: Horizon Discovery Group PLC

Price: 166.32 GBX

AIM:HZD
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £250.21 m
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