With lead drug from Pfizer, Esperion shares jump in expanded $70M biotech IPO

Esperion Therapeutics ($ESPR) got a warm reception after an upsized IPO that hauled in $70 million. The Plymouth, MI-based biotech company increased the offering size from 4.5 million to 5 million shares at $14 per share, hitting the midpoint of its proposed range of $13 to $15 per share.

Late this morning the company's shares were up 8.69% to $15.21, a solid start to its first day of trading yet not as stellar as leaps in value that bluebird bio ($BLUE) and Epizyme ($EPZM) took on the heels of their maiden public offerings in recent weeks. Esperion has hit Nasdaq amid growing interest in newly public drug developers and followed a pack of its industry counterparts to complete its IPO, a large part of which will fund further clinical development of its cholesterol-lowering drug candidate called ETC-1002, licensed from Pfizer ($PFE).

Seattle-based NanoString Technologies, a maker of analysis tools for cancer researchers, was unable to match the success of its life sciences industry peers. The Seattle-based outfit, which also develops molecular diagnostics, priced 5.4 million shares at $10 a pop, well south of the company's expected range of $13 to $15 per share. The Seattle Times noted that NanoString ($NSTG), which was already trading down 10% to $9 share late this morning, went public amid trouble in the global markets.

Esperion did just fine. Expectations for biotech IPOs have likely increased this year, which has marked a major comeback for drug researchers seeking to go public after such deals became rare in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown. Next in the biotech IPO queue could be the Dutch drug developer Prosensa, which has a closely watched drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy in Phase III development led by its pharma partner GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

Every one of these companies comes to the table from the same industry but different assets. In the case of Esperion, its executive crew formed the company after selling their previous outfit of the same name to Pfizer in 2004, later reclaiming the cholesterol drug which Pfizer had bought in the deal 9 years ago.

- here's the Esperion release
- see NanoString's release
- and The Seattle Times article

Special Report: Top 10 biotech IPOs of 2012