Healthcare Business

Top Biotech Stocks for Cancer Cures From Cowen

Lee Jackson

The conference season is starting to get into full swing, and for the top biotech stocks, that means an appearance at the American Society of Clinical Oncology yearly conference. Many of the top names present key data sets at their presentations, with some being brand new and some updating previously released results. With cancer expected to be the leading cause of death within the next 20 years, the top biotech companies are focusing on new treatments that may provide incredible breakthroughs.

The biotech team at Cowen has done a summary of data released or that will be released from some of the top biotech names in their coverage universe. Here is some of the commentary on stocks the firm rates as Outperform.

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) is the top blue chip name in the biotech world and at Cowen. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. The company trades at a low 12.6 times forward earnings. The company will present for the first time results from its potentially pivotal Phase 2 trial of blinatumomab, which is a bispecific T-cell engaging antibody that targets CD3+ T-cells to cancer cells expressing a tumor specific antigen. The biotech giant pays investors a solid 2.2% dividend. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $132.64. Amgen closed Thursday at $110.29 a share.

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BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) is a top mid-cap to buy at Cowen and is considered by some a possible takeover target. Media speculation of big pharma interest in BioMarin is likely related to the commercial success of the orphan drug model globally. Its diversified and expanding pipeline could also provide significant strategic value to acquirers. The company released updated results from the Phase 1 trial of its PARP inhibitor BMN673. The data continue to suggest that BMN673 is promising in breast cancer, and it may be active in small cell lung cancer. The consensus price target is $82.26. BioMarin closed Thursday trading at $57.44.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is a top stock that was crushed in the biotech sell-off, but it posted strong first-quarter earnings. The company has shown excellent efficacy in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with its top drug idelalisib, which is an oral inhibitor. While the company released some negative data at the conference, most Wall Street firms remain very positive. The consensus price target stands at $99.50. Shares ended Thursday at $80.10.

Incyte Corp. (NASDAQ: INCY) gave pipeline updates on major projects that surprised some analysts. The shorter than expected duration of response for Incyte’s ‘360 with ipilimumab came as a big surprise, but most firms do not see it as an issue since the progression-free survival number is strong. In fact, many believe the data suggest that ‘360 offers up to three times the clinical benefit expected with ipilimumab alone. The consensus price target is $71.50. Despite vocal support from many firms, the stock closed Thursday down 8% at $50.95.

While the conference provides very complicated data points that almost take a physician’s knowledge to understand, it helps guide the top Wall Street firms like Cowen in assessing the stocks they cover. One thing is for sure, the ongoing pursuit of cancer cures will be front and center for years. The companies with the highest success ratios will be the companies to own long term for investors.

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