If there was one sector inside of a broader health care theme that performed well through much of 2015, it was biotech. That was then, and this is now. A lot of things have gone wrong in biotech’s endless bull market. Is it possible that the negativity was so bad that it became overdone?
Citigroup came out with a biotech upgrade of sorts on Thursday. The firm issued brand new Buy ratings on four of the largest names within the biotech space. Citi was more subdued on two other names, but what matters here is that the two key exchange traded funds tracking biotech are now down a sharp 40% from the highs seen in 2015.
Several things are happening at once here. Valuations became stretched in biotech and merger premiums became excessive. But then came the drug pricing fight, with presidential candidates of both parties wanting go after the drug companies.
While Citi cannot of course be certain that these concerns are all over, they did give a fresh view that long-term investors could perhaps clean up buying into these valuations. Four are rated as Buy, and two are Neutral. We also included performance and valuation metrics, as well as what the upside targets may mean.
Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) was started with a Buy rating and was assigned a price target of $345.00 at Citi. Biogen closed at $257.22 and has a consensus analyst price target of $354.61 and a 52-week trading range of $242.07 to $480.18. Biogen’s target from Citi implies upside of roughly 34%. Its shares closed up 1.9% at $262.35 after the Buy rating.
Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a price target of $130.00, after closing at $102.08. Celgene has a consensus price target of $138.50. Its 52-week trading range is $92.98 to $140.72. Celgene’s target at Citi may be under the consensus, but it implies upside of almost 36% if the firm is right. Celgene shares closed up 0.25 at $102.35 after the call.
Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a price target of $110. Its shares closed at $89.36. Gilead has a consensus analyst target of $115.89 and a 52-week range of $81.89 to $123.37. This target from Citigroup implies 23% upside, before considering the 2% dividend yield. Gilead shares closed up 0.9% at $90.16. Gilead is also among the top 18 companies buying back stock in 2016.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) was started with a Buy rating at Citi and assigned a price target of $480.00. Regeneron closed at $393.63. It has a $518.29 consensus price target and a 52-week range of $350.26 to $605.93. Citi’s target implies upside of 22%, even though it is a sub-consensus price target. Regeneron shares rose only by 0.1% to a $393.99 close.
At least two calls from Citi seen on Thursday had mere Neutral ratings. These both still implied decent upside, if the analysts were correct. Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) was started as Neutral with a $165 price target, versus a $147.11 close. Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) was started as Neutral with a $165 price target, still higher than the $141.97 close.
In addition, The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology (NASDAQ: IBB) ETF closed at $258.78 on Wednesday, down just over 35% from its 52-week and all-time high of $400.79. Thursday’s price change for the fund was up 0.2% to $259.32.
The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEMKT: XBI) closed at $48.76, down some 46% from its 52-week and all-time high of $91.11. Thursday’s price change was actually down by 0.4% to $48.55.
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