Biotech has been one hot sector again in 2015. Two key biotech exchange traded funds are up 20% or so on average year-to-date. 247 Wall St. could not help but notice four analyst calls this past week in which upside of 50% to 100% was predicted for four biotech and specialty pharma stocks.
Before just chasing these higher, investors should understand that biotech stocks can be riskier than other, more established companies. Some of biotech companies have no products at all on the market. That implies that some could even disappear if their product development pipeline does not live up to hopes and expectations.
Just like in our coverage of stocks trading under $10, these stocks are not suitable for anything but the largest risk-takers. Conservative investors, retirees and funds for widows and orphans cannot be considered at all here.
24/7 Wall St. tracked four biotech and emerging pharma stocks with massive upside calls this past week. There were others in our most recent list of stocks trading under $10 as well, but these were beyond that $10 threshold.
Back on Tuesday, Flex Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: FLKS) was started as Buy with a $40 price target by HC Wainwright. This stock was trading a $19.46 prior to the call, and it rose to $21.31 before pulling back. Still, shares managed a 4.7% gain on Friday to $20.36. This is effectively a double-your-money analyst prediction, but investors should understand that this is a new small-cap company with very limited analyst coverage.
Flex Pharma shares were around $15 back in February, when the quiet period ended, and price target initiations were positive but much more muted back then: $25 at Piper Jaffray, $27 at Roth, $22 at Cantor Fitzgerald and $30 at JMP Securities.
It may already be up 75% or so year-to-date, but Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT) was just given a much more bullish analyst call. UBS started coverage with a Buy rating and a price target of $465. Shares closed at $274.44 the day before, and Friday’s weak stock market kept the gains muted to a $274.94 close.
The call implies upside of 69%, based on the upside for drugs targeting liver disease. The company is applying for FDA approval to treat primary biliary cirrhosis, and UBS actually thinks that Intercept may be able to charge up to $81,000 per patient — with total sales approaching $3 billion after the year 2020. Just keep in mind that Intercept’s market cap is already $6.2 billion.
RBC Capital Markets recently started Intra-Cellular Therapies Inc. (NASDAQ: ITCI) as Outperform with a price target of $41. The stock closed at $23.02 ahead of the call. Shares rose higher on the call, and even a 2.3% drop on Friday put shares at $24.36, higher than when the call was made. This implies upside of 64%.
Intra-Cellular is focused on small molecule drug development to treat neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases and other disorders of the central nervous system. The last formal call we saw was from JMP Securities, starting it as Outperform back in December, with a $26 price target, versus a $17.03 share price back then. The shared closed most recently at $24.36, so one has to wonder if a change will be made by them.
This specialty pharmaceutical company just came public in mid-March, and the quiet period has ended. The closing price of SteadyMed Ltd. (NASDAQ: STDY) was $8.65 before the analysts made their calls. It was started as Market Outperform at JMP Securities, with a $20 price target. Wells Fargo assigned it an Outperform rating, with a fair value range of $14 to $15. RBC Capital Markets started coverage with an Outperform rating and $18 price target.
These three analyst calls imply a consensus (does three make a consensus?) of $17.50 per share, versus an $8.62 close on Friday. That means this recent IPO is given a 103% upside on average. Wells Fargo was the most conservative in the calls, and it sees a large and underpenetrated market opportunity for Trevyent to treat PAH long term, and that its differentiation could address major unmet needs.