Healthcare Business

Analyst's Top 3 Biotech Picks for 2015 With Upside and Takeover Potential

With a strong market rally getting the markets just about back to even to the start of 2015, aggressive investors are looking ahead to fourth-quarter earnings and other catalysts to drive shares higher in the first quarter. We have scoured our research database for the top picks from Wall Street firms, and some of the best ideas seem to reside in the biotech sector.

A recent research piece from the biotech analysts at Stifel focused on three top stocks to buy with outstanding potential: Cempra Inc. (NASDAQ: CEMP), Kite Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: KITE) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC (NASDAQ: JAZZ).

Cempra

The Stifel analysts think this could be the next takeout candidate, with its lead program and product solithromycin. The company released outstanding top-line Phase 3 data for solithromycin earlier this week, and followed that up with a very successful and highly bid secondary offering of 5.25 million shares of stock that was priced at $24.50.

With major firms such as Stifel having raised price targets for Cempra stock, it is not out of the question that big pharmaceutical companies looking to expand their presence in the antibiotic space are watching results of Cempra closely. We covered the stock last November as a biotech catalyst stock that could have tremendous upside.

The Stifel price target for Cempra shares is $35. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is much lower at $21.83. That number will surely be boosted as most Wall Street firms have lifted targets into the $30s and some above $40. The stock closed Thursday at $24.88 a share.

ALSO READ: The Bullish and Bearish Case for Merck in 2015

Kite Pharma

The company went public last June 20, a successful initial public offering in a year that was cluttered with biotech deals that floundered. Pricing well above the original $12 to $13 range at $17 a share, the stock traded as high as $30.50 the first day, before closing at $29.

The bullish optimism around Kite stems from its lead program, which uses chimeric antigen receptors to reprogram a patient’s T cells and transform them into cancer-fighting agents, called CAR-T immunotherapies. The Stifel analysts feel Kite is a leader in this critical new oncology area.

The Stifel price target is set at $71 and may soon go higher. The consensus target is much lower at $60.25. Shares closed trading Thursday at $71.03.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals

The top specialty biopharmaceutical pick for 2015 at Stifel, Jazz Pharmaceuticals identifies, develops and commercializes pharmaceutical products. Currently it is developing JZP-110 and JZP-386. The former is an investigational compound that is in clinical development for the treatment of EDS in patients with narcolepsy. The latter is a deuterium-modified analog of sodium oxybate products that is under preclinical research and development and is intended for the treatment of narcolepsy patients.

The Stifel team loves the company’s potential to show meaningful growth and pipeline development this year. And so their price target for the stock is a whopping $200. The consensus price target is lower at $193.88. The stock closed trading on Thursday at $163.75.

ALSO READ: Wells Fargo’s Top Biotech Stocks for 2015

All three of these Stifel biotech picks are super aggressive, and only appropriate for aggressive, risk-tolerant portfolios. With that in mind, the firm has chosen three outstanding top picks for 2015, all of which could have big upside, and all could be considered takeover candidates.