The world of biotech and pharmaceuticals has entered into a strange period. The presidential elections have many companies under fire over price control or price gouging issues. And valuations previously had reached nosebleed levels prior to 2016. Still, investors know that a cure for cancer or a cure for rare and untreatable diseases is literally worth more than a gold mine.
24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst upgrades and downgrades each day of the week. This becomes hundreds of calls reviewed most weeks. It turns out that many of the upgrades and initiations are made in biotech, biohealth and emerging pharma companies. Some of these analyst calls also come with outrageous price targets — some ranging as much as 50% to 150% (or more).
The week of September 23 brought numerous analyst upgrades and downgrades in the biotech and biohealth space. Investors need to understand that analysts are far from omniscient. Analysts often get their upside wrong. Sometimes outside forces get in the way, and sometimes companies just do not deliver on their giant promises or indications. When biotechs go wrong, they often burn investors’ returns. Investors should only use analyst calls in the biotech and biohealth space as a starting point if they are not familiar with a company.
Again, there is no free lunch on analyst calls. If a Dow or S&P 500 stock is given 8% to 15% implied upside at this stage of the bull market, then projecting upside of 50% to 150% is taking a lot more risk — and a lot of good news may already be baked into that growth story.
Here are six analyst upgrades, initiations, and higher target prices for massive upside seen in analyst calls in the biotech and biohealth space from the week of September 23.
Wedbush Securities started Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) with an Outperform rating and assigned a $13 price target on Friday, September 23. This was ahead of good news and compared with an $8.44 prior closing price, but Achillion closed up 3% at $8.69 on Friday. Its 4.65 million shares were more than three times normal trading volume. A post-news note from Wedbush said:
We reiterate our Outperform rating and $13 price target, based on a sum-of-parts analysis with an 8x multiple to estimated ACH-4471 peak revenues of $595M and $887M for PNH and C3G, respectively, discounted by 35% and a 15x multiple to worldwide HCV royalties of $110M, discounted by 30%.
On September 22, Puma Biotechnology Inc. (NASDAQ: PBYI) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, but what stood out in this call was that the firm’s price target was raised sharply to $111 from $54. The firm’s higher target is based on increased Neratinib expectations, apparently much higher. The report said:
We view the FDA’s acceptance of neratinib’s NDA as a key de-risking event, further supported by management’s guidance that FDA’s 60-day letter indicated that no review issues have been identified at this time. … We anticipate a standard 10 months review period (management did not request priority review) with a July 2017 PDUFA date. Given HER2+ extended adjuvant is a new indication, we expect an ODAC panel, in line with management’s guidance.
Puma Biotech shares closed up 4.3% at $67.97 on Wednesday and were indicated up another 4.8% at $71.25 on Thursday after the call was made. They ended the week at $68.08, and the 52-week range is $19.74 to $94.93. Its consensus price target is $86.00. Keep in mind that this was a $200 or more stock in 2014 and 2015.