Health and Healthcare

3 Likely Biotech Buyout Candidates

The pharmaceutical business is a difficult one, because patent expiration and competition are always omnipresent factors. Obviously major companies like to keep large research and development projects moving at full speed to develop new products, but sometimes the best ways for companies to expand and grow revenues is through timely acquisitions.

A new research report from the analysts at Cowen sees a potential wave of deals, some of which could be of the blockbuster variety. Here are some of the stocks they view as possible targets.

Alkermes PLC (NASDAQ: ALKS) is a top name that many on Wall Street for years has thought to be an acquisition target. The company has a diversified portfolio of more than 20 commercial drug products and a substantial clinical pipeline of product candidates that address central nervous system disorders such as addiction, schizophrenia and depression.

Alkermes announced last week the completion of patient enrollment in a Phase 2 study of ALKS 3831, an investigational, novel, oral, broad-spectrum atypical antipsychotic medicine in development for the treatment of schizophrenia. ALKS 3831 is composed of samidorphan, a novel, potent mu-opioid antagonist, in combination with the established antipsychotic drug, olanzapine. This combined with the incredible pipeline and portfolio makes the stocks a very valuable asset. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $50.92. Shares ended trading on Friday at $43.23.

ALSO READ: 5 Orphan Drug Biotech Stocks to Buy With Big Upside Potential

Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC (NASDAQ: JAZZ) expects adjusted earnings for 2014 in the range of $8.00 to $8.25 per share. The consensus forecast is $10.09 for 2015. That in itself is a reason many see the stock as a takeover target. The company is a specialty biopharmaceutical company that identifies, develops and commercialize pharmaceutical products.

Currently Jazz is developing JZP-110, an investigational compound, which is in clinical development for the treatment of EDS in patients with narcolepsy; and JZP-386, a deuterium-modified analog of sodium oxybate products that is under pre-clinical research and development and is intended for the treatment of narcolepsy patients. The consensus price target is $181.89, and the stock closed trading on Friday at $160.53.

Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: SLXP) is a stock that the Cowen thinks Allergan will try to acquire soon, and they estimate a bid in the $185 per share range. The analysts also think it is a deal shareholders would get behind, instead of the Valeant proposal. The Cowen team also think a combined Allergan/Salix would be a company that could be targeted by Actavis.

Salix develops and markets prescription pharmaceutical products and medical devices for the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. Salix’s strategy is to in-license late-stage or marketed proprietary therapeutic products, complete any required development and regulatory submission of these products, and commercialize them through the company’s 500-member specialty sales force. The consensus price target is $162.82. The stock closed Friday right below that level at $161.77.

ALSO READ: Credit Suisse Sees 75% Upside in Sarepta

One interesting part of the Cowen report was a speculation that if Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) was able to complete a deal with Allergan (NYSE: AGN), which the Cowen team sees as unlikely, that they would turn their sights to a possible mega-deal. The companies that Cowen mentioned as possible targets could include bellwethers such as Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN), Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) and even pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY).

One thing is for sure, any of these deals will require some deep pockets, and probably a stock and cash component, to get the deal done. That being said, Cowen is sure the consolidation will continue.

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