Healthcare and life sciences expert Scott Power, who has been a senior analyst with Morgans Financial for 24 years, explains what the movers and shakers have been doing in health and gives his ASX powerplays.

Themes of the week

The ASX healthcare sector finished the week up 0.7 per cent, underperforming the broader market which gained 2.7 per cent. Still, it was the sector’s fourth winning week out of the past five.

With the first quarter behind us, Power said it was a “big quarter” for capital raisings, with 20 healthcare companies including Mesoblast (ASX:MSB), Avita Medical (ASX:AVH), Micro X (ASX:MX1) and 4D Medical (ASX:4DX) raising a total of $585 million during the period.

“That just sort of maintains the momentum in the space,” he said.

Bard1 Life Sciences (ASX:BD1) was the top performer during the quarter, rising 426.5 per cent as it made progress on its blood tests for breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.

Imugene (ASX:IMU) was the biggest gainer, rising 50 per cent to 18c as the Sydney biotech announced its cancer vaccine candidate was continuing to show promise in a small phase 1 clinical trial.

Power called Imugene and Immutep (ASX:IMM) the key players in the ASX immuno-oncology space, “and they’ve done really well. That’s an area that looks really interesting.”

Impedimed (ASX:IPD), a Brisbane-based bioimpedance medical device company and Power’s “stock of the week” pick from two weeks ago, finished the week up 16.7 per cent to 14c on positive cashflow news.

The company raised $8.8 million as options-holders who took part in a 2020 capital raising exercised them, and Impedimed also announced that cash outflow for the third quarter would be about $3.5 million – better than previous guidance of $4 million.

“That’s good news, their outlook is improving,” Power said.

There was also some peer-reviewed data published during the week about how Impedimed’s devices could be used to monitor heart failure patients.

“We’re very confident that’s going to head higher over the next couple months,” Power said.

Morgans rates IPD as a speculative buy with a price target of 20c.

Control Bionics (ASX:CBL) gained 21.7 per cent to 73c after the assistive technology company for the severely disabled entered into a reseller agreement with Numotion for the US states of New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

That’s also a speculative buy by Morgans, with a price target of $1.42.

Powerplay: Antisense

Power’s pick this week is Antisense Therapeutics (ASX:ANP), a biopharmaceutical company that is researching a potential treatment for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.

“The company has made strong progress recently but we view the next 12 months as particularly important with a large number of catalysts and events unfolding giving further clarity on costs, trial design, new indication and potential for partnering discussions to commence,” Morgans said in a research report in February.

The company is working on possible new indications for its drug candidate and could soon announce details about a pivotal European phase 3 drug trial.

ANP shares are already up 76 per cent this year to 23c.

“That’s one that’s had a good run — but it really looks like it wants to run harder.”

Morgans rates Antisense a speculative buy with a price target of 37.7c.

Last week’s pick, Latin American medical imaging company IMEXHS (ASX:IME), finished the week up 5.4 per cent to $2.34.


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