Marker Therapeutics adding Houston plant

Pharmaceutical research firm reaches new phase in development.

  • By Mark Basch
  • | 5:20 a.m. July 9, 2020
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When Marker Therapeutics Inc., then known as TapImmune, was headquartered in Jacksonville, it had a minimal presence.

The company relocated from Seattle in 2015 because it was beginning a clinical trial of a breast cancer treatment at  Mayo Clinic. 

It opened a Downtown Jacksonville office with a handful of employees.

Marker, which moved its headquarters to Houston last year, now is expanding its operations as its therapies to treat several forms of cancer reach a new phase.

The company said last week it is leasing a 48,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in Houston that is expected to be ready next year.

Marker said the facility will be used for further development of its therapies and potential commercialization of its products.

In a news release, Marker said it is seeking to advance its multi-antigen targeted platform, which it describes as a “non-genetically modified cell therapy approach that selectively expands tumor-specific T cells from a patient’s blood capable of recognizing a broad range of tumor antigens.”

Marker had 11 employees at the end of 2018 when it was headquartered in Jacksonville, but its last annual report said it had 28 at the end of 2019. 

The report said the company still has a Downtown office at 5 W.  Forsyth St. that is leased through June 2022.

Regency price target increased

Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Hill last week raised his price target for Jacksonville-based Regency Centers Corp. 

But he still thinks the stock has been trading higher than its value.

With the stock trading at $46.17, Hill raised his price target from $32.50 to $38 and maintained an “equal-weight” rating on the shopping center developer. 

“We think the market pays a premium for strong balance sheet, well positioned portfolio and a maintained dividend,” he said in his report.

Regency operates mainly strip shopping centers anchored by supermarkets. 

Like other analysts, Hill thinks those centers have a stronger outlook than big malls. 

He also favors Regency over its peers.

“Bottom line, we think Regency has the best positioned portfolio given higher quality tenants and better markets,” he said.

Also last week, Citigroup analysts raised their price target for Regency from $38 to $46 while maintaining a “neutral” rating on the stock. 

Citigroup generally does not provide its research reports to the media.

Few Jacksonville stocks beat market

Regency’s stock jumped 19% in the second quarter, as the overall market rebounded from the COVID-19 sell-off in February and March.

 Regency’s gain only put it in line with the rest of the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18% in the quarter, its best since 1987, and the S&P 500 index rose 20%.

Only three Jacksonville-based companies beat the market in the second quarter, aside from stocks that were trading near or below $1 at the end of the first quarter.

Black Knight Inc. led the way with a 25% gain, followed by Fidelity National Financial Inc. at 23% and CSX Corp. at 22%.

GEE Group Inc. restructures its balance sheet

GEE Group Inc. last week completed a restructuring of its balance sheet that improved its financial position.

The Jacksonville-based staffing company said it eliminated $47.4 million in subordinated debt and preferred stock financing in exchange for cash and the issuance of about 1.8 million restricted shares of GEE Group stock.

The transaction increased stockholders’ equity by more than $40 million before taxes and left the company with about $16.4 million in cash on its balance sheet as of June 30.

“Now that these transactions have been completed on very favorable terms, we are most excited about the company’s growth prospects and its ability to maximize shareholder value,” CEO Derek Dewan said in a news release.

McKesson realigns business structure

McKesson Corp. last week announced a realignment of its businesses into four units, which it said will better serve the needs of an evolving health care industry.

The one business unaffected is the Texas-based company’s medical-surgical solutions business, which has a large presence in Jacksonville. That business includes the former operations of Jacksonville-based PSS World Medical Inc., which McKesson acquired in 2013.

McKesson last year moved its offices from the former PSS headquarters in Southpoint to a new 122,880-square-foot building at 6651 Gate Parkway.

The other three business units under the realignment are McKesson’s pharmaceutical distribution operations, its prescription technology solutions business and an international segment that will combine operations from Canada and Europe.

Tampa-based Valet Living acquires Skinner Waste

Tampa-based Valet Living last week said it acquired Skinner Waste Solutions, a Jacksonville-based company founded in 2014.

Both companies provide trash and recycling services to multifamily housing communities.

Skinner Waste serves 30,000 homes in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Valet Living serves more than 1.5 million homes in 40 states.

Valet Living said more than 100 Skinner Waste employees will be retained.

Terms of the deal were not announced.



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