Madrigal Pharmaceuticals Inc. — a player in the blockbuster contest to develop treatments for the liver disease known as NASH — surged more than 500 percent this year, poised to finish 2017 as the best performing stock in the Russell 2000 Index.
Madrigal, based outside Philadelphia, has ballooned from a market cap of just $200 million six months ago, when the company had little analyst coverage on Wall Street. The shares began to pick up steam in late September when Evercore ISI called the stock an “overlooked NASH gem,” spurring a 53 percent gain. It now boasts four buy ratings and Madrigal released mid-stage study results Dec. 6 that sent the stock up 88 percent.
Madrigal is developing MGL-3196 in NASH, or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a type of fatty liver disease. Phase 2 study results showed patients taking the drug had a significant reduction in liver fat compared with placebo after 12 weeks. Evercore ISI analyst Josh Schimmer said the results confirmed MGL-3196 has a “best-in-class profile for treating NASH,” and expects further validation from 36-week data due in April.