4 Biotech Stocks to Buy That May See Huge Volatility From Earnings

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With the third-quarter earnings reporting season upon us, investors are checking their holdings and research to see just how things are shaping up for stocks they own. One thing is for sure: Some of the top biotech stocks could become extremely volatile before and after earnings. So we screened our 24/7 Wall St. research database looking for sell-side color on the quarter.

A new research piece from the biotech team at RBC handicaps earnings expectations for some of the top biotechnology companies. We screened the research for stocks rated Outperform and found four that may be worth a look for aggressive investors.

Agios Pharmaceuticals

This lower profile stock makes sense for aggressive accounts. Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AGIO) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Its therapeutic areas of focus are cancer and rare genetic metabolic disorders, which are a group of over 600 rare genetic diseases caused by mutations, or defects, of single metabolic genes.

The company’s cancer product candidates are enasidenib and ivosidenib (AG-120), which target mutated isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) and isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), respectively, and AG-881, which targets both mutated IDH1 and mutated IDH2. These mutations are found in a range of hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

The lead product candidate in its rare genetic metabolic disorder programs, AG-348, targets pyruvate kinase-R for the treatment of pyruvate kinase deficiency. The report noted this:

We are in line with consensus for the first quarter of Idhifa’s launch, and expect low single digit sales of ~$3.2 million for the first partial quarter of Idhifa’s launch. Idhifa is prescribed to treat adults who have a specific type of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

The RBC price objective for the stock is $78, and the Wall Street consensus is $74.30. The shares traded Friday morning at $71.00.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Rumors have flown for some time that this may be a potential acquisition target. Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) develops and commercializes life-transforming therapeutic products.

It offers Soliris (eculizumab), a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a genetic blood disorder, and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, a genetic disease. It also provides Strensiq (asfotase alfa), a targeted enzyme replacement therapy for patients with hypophosphatasia, and Kanuma (sebelipase alfa) for the treatment of patients with lysosomal acid lipase deficiency.

RBC cautions that the company could miss on the top and bottom lines for the quarter due to lower Soliris sales. The team also pointed to recent restructuring costs as a drag on earnings.

RBC has a $161 price target, and the consensus target is $163.45. The stock traded at $143.50 on Friday.

Exelixis

This stock gapped down recently and is offering a solid entry point. Exelixis Inc. (NASDAQ: EXEL) is focused on discovery, development and commercialization of new medicines to manage care and outcomes for people with cancer. Its cabozantinib product is an inhibitor of multiple tyrosine kinases, including MET, AXL and VEGF receptors.

The company’s Cabometyx tablets are approved for previously treated advanced kidney cancer, and Cometriq capsules are approved for progressive, metastatic medullary thyroid cancer. The third product, Cotellic, is a formulation of cobimetinib, a selective inhibitor of MEK is approved as part of a combination regimen to treat advanced melanoma. Both cabozantinib and cobimetinib have shown potential in a range of forms of cancer and are the subjects of broad clinical development programs.

The RBC team thinks the company can beat earnings estimates for some of its drugs for the quarter. Citing prescription trends and pricing increases, they also raised their price target.

The new $33 RBC price target compares with the consensus target of $29.57. The shares were last seen trading at $25.95.

Seattle Genetics

This stock has been a rumored takeover candidate for years. Seattle Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGEN) develops and commercializes antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer. The company is developing antibody-drug conjugates, a technology designed to harness the targeting ability of antibodies to deliver cell-killing agents directly to cancer cells.

Julian and Felix Baker’s hedge fund, Baker Brothers Holdings, relentlessly bought stock in the company over the past three years, and they currently own a massive 45,725,556 shares, which represents almost 32% of the outstanding shares.

RBC is in agreement with current estimates and also remain in line with second-quarter management guidance for Adcetris revenues.

RBC has set its price target at $58. The consensus estimate is $58.73, and the stock traded on Friday at $58.10.

These four top biotech stocks rated Outperform could see some near-term turbulence during earnings. Investors may want to hedge in front of the numbers just to be safe.