Syncona Limited (LON:SYNC) shares dipped on Thursday as the life science investor saw its net asset value (NAV) was hit by an 81% decline in the value of its portfolio firm, Autolus Therapeutics Ltd (NASDAQ:AUTL).
For the year ended 31 March, the FTSE 250 firm reported a NAV of £1.25bn, or 185.6p per share, down from £1.455bn, or 216.8p per share, in 2019.
The company’s life sciences portfolio suffered a 25% decline over the year, as uplifts from the sale of Blue Earth Diagnostics and a Series B financing in Achilles Therapeutics were offset by the decline in the Autolus share price.
Despite this, Syncona said it continued to believe in the “strong fundamentals” of Autolus, highlighting that post-year end the company’s share price had risen 131%.
The company also said its capital pool had “significantly strengthened” during the year to £767mln from £399.7mln as a result of its divestments from both Blue Earth and its other portfolio firm Nightstar Therapeutics.
Looking ahead, Syncona said data generated from its clinical pipeline will be a “critical driver of value” in the coming year, adding that a number of its portfolio companies were approaching key milestones.
“Our strong capital pool and the deep expertise within the team means we are well positioned to support our companies in navigating continued disruption and ensure they able to progress their business plans”, said chief executive Martin Murphy.
He added that while the coronavirus pandemic had caused some delays to clinical trials in its portfolio, Murphy said the firm was confident that its investment companies were “well placed to be resilient through the current crisis”.
“Whilst life science product development is never without risk, we believe our nine companies are strongly positioned to deliver value over the long-term", the CEO concluded.
In a note on Thursday, analysts at Peel Hunt retained their ‘add’ rating and 286p price target, saying while the company had been “left behind a little” by a rally in the biotech sector, the weaker nav represented “a good entry opportunity for this pseudo Biotech that has high ownership stakes in a diversified portfolio of high-quality / cutting-edge assets with a number of catalysts on the horizon”.
Shares in Syncona fell 1.4% to 220p in early deals.