ImmuCell Corp. has raised the money it needs to build a pharmaceutical-grade production facility for the key ingredient in its next major product.

The Portland-based animal health products maker said it completed a previously announced $5.9 million public offering Wednesday. It offered for sale 1.1 million shares of stock to fund a production facility for a new product it is developing, a novel treatment for mastitis in dairy cows. The shares were priced at $5.25 each. The offering diluted the value of ImmuCell’s existing pool of 3.1 million outstanding shares by roughly one-third.

ImmuCell President and CEO Michael Brigham said the offering, underwritten by Minneapolis-based Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC, attracted large institutional investors, something ImmuCell previously lacked.

“They (Craig-Hallum) have changed the stockholder base,” Brigham said. “My hope is they’ll take the long view.”

ImmuCell will net about $5.3 million after paying fees associated with the offering. It will use the proceeds, along with a $4.3 million loan from TD Bank, $6.5 million in cash reserves and investments, and current and future operating capital, to build and equip a facility that will produce nisin, the active ingredient in the company’s mastitis treatment, called Mast Out. The preliminary cost estimate for the production facility is $17.5 million.

Nisin is an antibacterial peptide that is produced via a fermentation process that utilizes a proprietary strain of bacterium. It is then purified and concentrated to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.

Mastitis is inflammation of breast tissue, which can afflict lactating dairy cows. Existing antibiotic treatments render the milk unsalable temporarily, causing a loss of revenue to the farmers.

Mast Out, which is still awaiting approval by the FDA, would be different because nisin is a naturally occurring substance that already is approved for use as a food preservative in the U.S. Milk from cows being treated with nisin still could be sold.

ImmuCell’s flagship product, called First Defense, is a natural treatment for scours, which causes diarrhea and dehydration in dairy and beef calves. The product has been selling well, but Brigham has said that having a second major product would take ImmuCell to the next level.

ImmuCell is one of a handful of publicly held companies based in Maine. It trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol ICCC. The company was on its way to having a banner year in the first nine months of 2015, with sales up 40 percent from the previous year. Net income for the relatively small company for the first three quarters of 2015 was $924,000, and revenue was $7.5 million.

Its fourth-quarter earnings report has not yet been released, but the company estimated its total sales for the year at $10.2 million.

ImmuCell shares increased in value by 47 percent in 2015, making it the best-performing Maine-based stock for the year.

Widespread drought across the U.S. that has boosted the price of cattle contributed to ImmuCell’s recent growth, along with increased sales efforts.


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