If there is one industry that had a busy January, it was biotech. In fact, January set an all-time record for issuance and funds raised in the biotech sector, and many are feeling that the group is way overbought and ready for a big correction. A new and very comprehensive report from Cowen points out that while some of the technology and platform-driven stocks may be overhyped, some of the large cap leaders delivered solid earnings and good 2015 guidance.
In the report the Cowen team broke out numerous categories in terms of the incoming calls they get, to sentiment and milestones that are being discussed, to stocks that the buy-side portfolio managers love and hate. We were intrigued by the stocks that managers love the most and cross-referenced that list with Cowen’s own recommendations.
Here are the five biotech stocks that are loved the most, according to Cowen’s data.
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAD) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative medicines to address unmet medical needs in neurological and related central nervous system disorders. ACADIA has a pipeline of product candidates led by Nuplazid (pimavanserin), for which it has reported positive Phase 3 trial results in Parkinson’s disease psychosis and which has the potential to be the first drug approved in the United States for this disorder. One of the main questions is what is holding up the new drug application (NDA) for pimavanserin.
The Cowen price target for the stock is $46. The Thomson/First Call consensus is at $38.43. The stock closed Monday at $31.10.
ALSO READ: Did Biogen Run Too Much After Earnings?
BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) develops and commercializes innovative biopharmaceuticals for serious diseases and medical conditions. The company’s product portfolio comprises five approved products and multiple clinical and preclinical product candidates. Many Wall Street analysts feel that while BioMarin has an attractive pipeline, concern about management’s ability to control costs and allow the company to become sustainably profitable. Over the past decade BioMarin has become one of the top orphan drug companies, and it looks poised to stay there. The company is expected to post around $700 million in revenue for 2014 and possibly around $810 million in 2015 following the approval of Vimizim, an enzyme replacement therapy for Morquio syndrome.
The Cowen price target is $115, and the consensus target is $108.71. BioMarin closed Monday at $95.34 a share.
bluebird bio Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) is another top stock that buy-side managers are in love with. Monday, the company received a Breakthrough Therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its LentiGlobin BB305 Drug Product for the treatment of transfusion-dependent patients with beta-thalassemia major. LentiGlobin seeks to treat beta-thalassemia major and severe sickle-cell disease by inserting a functional human beta-globin gene into the patient’s own hematopoietic stem cells ex vivo and then returning those modified cells to the patient through an autologous stem cell transplantation.
Cowen rates the stock at Outperform, but no price target was posted in the research piece. The consensus price target is $120.50. Shares closed down over 2% Monday at $91.70.
ALSO READ: Short Sellers Starting to Gang Up on Biotech
Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) is one of the Wall Street’s top picks for this year, as many feel this large cap stock has solid upside potential and an outstanding partnered pipeline. Some analysts think the company can grow earnings 20% or more next year and 2016. The company recently provided strong guidance surrounding its Otezla launch and encouraging feedback from doctors on the potential of new triplet regimens in myeloma. Many on Wall Street see the company working to diversify away from the flagship product through the emerging inflammation and immunology franchise, as well as a rich pipeline of alliances.
The Cowen team has a $145 price target. The consensus target is $132.65. Celgene closed on Monday at $118.57 a share.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) is another top pick around Wall Street and fund managers love the company. The stock has been a performance monster over the past two years, and most Wall Street firms expect it to stay one. With treatments for everything from macular degeneration to colorectal cancer, the company continues to exploit an extraordinary pipeline. Analysts are very positive on the company’s prospects for solid Eylea growth, and others on Wall Street cite Alirocumab, which is another new cholesterol drug with big expected upside. The company and partner Sanofi recently received encouraging news when the FDA granted priority review to their biologics license application for its PCSK9 antibody, Praluent. The companies are looking to get the candidate approved for the treatment of patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia.
Cowen rated the stock at Market Perform and has a $350 price target, while the consensus is much higher at $431.91. Shares closed trading on Monday at $413.09. The Cowen call looks more valuation based than anything.
ALSO READ: Is Celgene’s Outlook Good Enough for Investors?
Just because portfolio managers and the buy-side accounts are in love with these stocks does not mean they are necessarily right. It does however, give investors a look at what people who are paid to run money like and are probably invested in.
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