Investors have been in love with the speculative biotech sector for years now. If there is one group of stocks that can produce returns of 100%, 200% or even ten-baggers, it is biotech. That being said, biotech and emerging pharma stocks may be among the most likely of all speculative stocks to implode and disappear.
24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week. Of the stocks to buy, we often see upside targets of 10% or 20% in S&P 500 stocks. Then there is the small cap universe with stocks under $10, where upside calls can come with projections of 30%, 50% or even 100% or more upside.
In the speculative small-cap biotech sector, the calls are often accompanied with upside price targets of 50%, 100% or even 200%. This is because the companies are often all-in bets on one or two treatments. And these companies can implode and vanish in a very short time. Analyst calls of this sort are not meant at all for risk-averse investors.
This past week, there were four speculative biotech analyst picks in the small-cap universe with massive upside projections. One was less than 50% projected upside, but one was nearly projected at 200%. Again, these are all very speculative calls — even for the speculative biotech sector.
Array BioPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRY) was reiterated as Outperform at Wells Fargo, and the price target range for a value was put at $9.50 to $10.50 in the call. That is handily higher than the $7.47 close on Friday, and much higher than the lows of about $6.50 this past week. Wells Fargo said that its target is a blend of 25 to 30 price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio and a sum of the parts applied to expected 2020 earnings per share (EPS) of $0.77 and revenues of $542 million. Wells Fargo went on to say that its ex-U.S. partnership and positive Phase 3 NEMO data could make the second half of 2015 a stellar six months for Array’s shares. Array’s consensus analyst target price is $10.14.
Onconova Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ONTX) was started with a Buy rating and price target of $6.00 at H.C. Wainwright last week. What investors need to consider is that this was versus a $2.26 close and a $2.37 end-of-week price, leaving much more than 100% in implied upside, if the call turns out to be accurate. On the other hand, Onconova has $51 market cap, and its volume is so small at 45,000 shares per day that this does not meet parameters for many investors. Onconova has a 52-week range of $2.15 to $5.78. Of the handful of analysts covering the stock, the price targets range from $3.00 to $6.00, making Wainwright’s call the most aggressive.
Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: TNXP) was started as Buy at Janney Capital Markets this past Wednesday. The firm assigned a $10 fair value target in the call, versus a prior $6.03 closing price and Friday’s closing price of $6.06. Tonix does not quite have a $100 million market cap, it trades about 90,000 shares per day, and its 52-week range is $5.33 to $15.21. As far as what Janney sees here: Tonix is developing TNX-102 SL, a low-dose, sublingual reformulation of cyclobenzaprine for the treatment of fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It missed the primary endpoint in their Phase 2b in fibromyalgia, but Janney said that it has confidence that the Phase 3 will read out positive given the study design and new primary endpoint. The firm also believes the PTSD indication offers a unique opportunity as the Tonix Phase 2b study focuses on a military population.
XTL Bipharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: XTLB) was started as Buy and with a $6.00 price target at H.C. Wainwright on Friday of this week. What should stand out the most here is that XTL Bio closed at $2.02 before the call was made, but shares rose over 11% to $2.25 after the report was made. XTL has a 52-week range of $1.55 to $5.00, but investors who are cautious, even in the realm of speculative biotechs, better pay attention to the $29 million market cap here. Also, H.C. Wainwright was XTL’s sole placement agent for a $4 million private placement at the end of March, when the company sold American depositary shares at $2.25, with a warrant to buy a half share at $2.25 (versus a $2.24 prior close). XTL is based in Israel and XTL is focused on late stage clinical development of drugs targeting lupus, multiple myeloma and schizophrenia.