This year is turning out to be the best for Organovo Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:ONVO) since 2013. Shares of the 3D bioprinting company have almost doubled year to date. But Organovo's momentum might not be over, given its executives' comments following the release of the company's fiscal 2017 first-quarter results. Here are three reasons the stock could keep climbing higher. (Quotes courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence.)
1. New customers
CEO Keith Murphy mentioned in Organovo's earnings call that the company had signed up two additional big pharmaceutical companies recently. That brings the total customer count to seven of the top 25 largest drugmakers in the world.
It's not just that new customers are being added, though. Even better is how many of those customers work with Organovo. Murphy explained that his company likes to use what is called a "master service agreement."
These master service agreements take more time to finalize than a simple order. However, they allow for a relationship where it's easier for a customer to do repeat business with Organovo. Murphy said that one of the two customers just signed opted for a master service agreement.
While Organovo's sales aren't huge just yet, they're certainly growing. Revenue reported in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 nearly tripled the figure from the same period last year. Signing more big customers under arrangements that encourage repeat business could translate to higher share prices for the company in the future.
2. New data
In July, researchers from Organovo and Roche published findings in the scientific journal PLOS One. In the article, the scientists detailed how Organovo's 3D bioprinted human liver tissue was able to detect toxicity in drugs that wasn't picked up in other clinical studies.
Research like this is tremendously important to Organovo. Some scientists remain skeptical about 3D bioprinted tissues. Gaining exposure through publishing, especially alongside a well-known and respect company like Roche, helps build credibility for Organovo and its products.
Murphy thinks that "more scientific data will accelerate our financial results." He's committed to investing more in getting the word out about the benefits of using 3D bioprinted tissues.
I suspect that the more publications and conference presentations from Organovo, the better the stock will perform over time.
3. New products
What's perhaps the most important driver for Organovo's continued stock success? New products. And there's good news on that front for the company.
Keith Murphy said that Organovo remains on track to launch its second commercial product, the kidney proximal tubule, at the end of September. The company already has its first customer lined up even before the official launch date.
Murphy added that Organovo has "actively engaged with a number of additional customers" for its 3D kidney tissue. The company plans to debut the new tissue at a European toxicology conference in early September. In the meantime, Organovo is putting the final touches on its manufacturing and marketing plans for the new product.
Don't expect any significant financial results in this fiscal year from Organovo's kidney tissue. Over the long run, however, it should make plenty of money for the company. Organovo plans to keep investing in research and development for next-generation liver, kidney, and skin tissues, so more new products should be on the horizon.
Hype and reality
Organovo's stock has soared in the past only to fall again. However, much of the excitement then was based on hype about the potential for the company's technology.
Now, though, Organovo has actual products -- one on the market already and another just around the corner. Profitability isn't on the table for fiscal 2017, but the company should break even in the next two or three years if it keeps growing revenue at current rates.
It will definitely still take quite a while for 3D bioprinted tissues to reach the $100 million revenue level Organovo hopes to achieve. And maybe the company won't get there. However, I think that the success Organovo is beginning to see with its liver tissue is a preview of what is to come. There's a lot less hype and a lot more reality to Organovo than ever before.