Healthcare Business

Catalysts and Data Could Move 4 Top Biotech Stocks to Buy

While most on Wall Street agree that the huge biotech stocks with pipelines stuffed with potential blockbusters are the stocks to buy, there is one problem with that strategy. Many of those top stocks have huge share prices, which makes it very difficult for aggressive accounts to make a sizable purchase that could have meaningful upside. A new report from Stifel highlights four very solid biotech stocks that could bring home the bacon this year for investors and are not triple-digit priced.

The Stifel therapeutics team hosted a series of investor meetings with a number of West Coast-based biotech and specialty pharmaceutical companies last week, and they came away with takeaways that provided them with data that added to the firm’s current positive bias.

Here are the four biotech stocks rated Buy at Stifel: ChemoCentryx Inc. (NASDAQ: CCXI), Kite Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: KITE), NewLink Genetics Corp. (NASDAQ: NLNK) and Relypsa Inc. (NASDAQ: RLYP).


This clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focuses on discovering, developing and commercializing orally administered therapeutics that target the chemokine and chemoattractant systems in order to treat autoimmune diseases, inflammatory disorders and cancer.

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The Stifel team expects investigators will soon present additional data on the CCX140 Phase 2 trial in diabetic nephropathy, particularly highlighting the benefit in more rapidly advancing Stage 3 and 4 patients with urine albumin creatinine ratios. Company management thinks only one Phase 3 trial will be needed for approval.

The Stifel price target for the stock is $12, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is at $9.50. Shares closed Thursday at $7.54.

Kite Pharma

Kite Pharma had a successful IPO last year, in a year that was cluttered with biotech deals that floundered. The company went public last summer, pricing well above the original $12 to $13 range at $17 a share, and 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.

Recently, CMO David Chang presented a broad overview to the Stifel team on the CAR-T and TCR development progress. Four trials should provide investors data on TCR-based therapies to treat solid tumors. Kite has a $585 million deal with Amgen to develop CAR-T cancer therapies.

The Stifel price target is $83, and the consensus is right in line at $83.17. The stock closed last Thursday at $53.95.

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NewLink Genetics

This biopharmaceutical company focuses on discovering, developing and commercializing immunotherapeutic products for cancer treatment. Its lead product candidate, a hyperacute Pancreas immunotherapy, is being studied in Phase 3 clinical trials in surgically resected pancreatic cancer patients, as well as in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

The Stifel report indicates that Roche and Genentech are ready to initiate what is called combination studies of NewLink’s IDO/ITO inhibitor. Combination studies trial design specifics were apparently undisclosed, with Roche’s anti-PD-L1 will initiate at once. The company’s ability to partner with major players is a huge plus.

The Stifel price target is posted at $59, and the consensus target is $49.40. The stock closed Thursday at $53.59 a share.


Relypsa is a small cap name most have not heard of, but it ranks incredibly high with buy side accounts. The company is focused on the development and commercialization of non-absorbed polymeric drugs to treat disorders in the areas of renal, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The company’s two-part pivotal Phase 3 trial of its lead product candidate, patiromer, for the treatment of hyperkalemia, a life-threatening condition defined as abnormally elevated levels of potassium in the blood, has been completed and the primary and secondary endpoints were met.

The Stifel team feels that patiromer will be approved in October with once-daily dosing on the label. The analysts also expect about a two-month lag between FDA approval and the company entering the supply channel. They have a very serious competitor in ZS Pharma, which has also released outstanding clinical data.

The Stifel price target, at $55, is lower than the consensus target of $58.50. Shares ended last week at $34.45.

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All the Stifel picks are well down the road in bringing product to the market. Although these stocks are only suitable for very aggressive, risk-tolerant accounts, the outstanding Stifel work highlights four stocks with tremendous possibilities.