Is it time to buy Amarin Corp. (NASDAQ: AMRN)? Analyst Louise Chen of Cantor Fitzgerald thinks so. On Monday, the firm reiterated its Buy rating for the Dublin, Ireland-based biopharmaceutical company that focuses on cardiovascular health.
Seeing a lot of upside potential, Chen’s price target for Amarin is $35. Amarin shares closed at $6.85 on Monday. That was a jump of nearly 4%, compared with the S&P 500’s rise of less than 1%.
Of 13 Wall Street analysts following the stock, eight suggest Buy and five say Hold. Their average price target stands at $17.23, suggesting a potential upside of 150%.
For the second quarter, Chen expects earnings per share (EPS) of -$0.06. For the first quarter, Amarin had an EPS of -$0.03. This was in line with analysts’ estimates.
Amarin’s first-quarter results, released in April, were positive. Net total revenue more than doubled year over year to a record level on the back of Vascepa prescription growth in the United States. Revenue increased 112% to $155 million, up from $73.3 million in the first quarter of last year.
The company reported cash equivalents of $329 million in the first quarter, and liquid short-term and long-term investments of $213.2 million and $81.5 million respectively. Amarin trades in the United States as an American depositary receipt, which allows U.S. investors to trade stocks in foreign companies.
New Diabetes Study
Amarin’s sole drug, Vascepa, has been around in the United States since 2013 to treat high triglycerides. It consists of one active ingredient, icosapent ethyl (IPE), which is an Omega-3 fatty acid derived from fish oil. It is the only drug of its kind on the market.
The company soared in the stock market last year when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Vascepa as a secondary treatment for adults with high triglyceride levels. Taken with statins, Vascepa has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, which are among the top killers of Americans.
On Monday, Amarin said a new study shows Vascepa can significantly reduce cardiovascular risk in people with diabetes. The findings could help Amarin expand sales to a new class of patients.
The study found Vascepa reduced major adverse cardiovascular events by 23% in diabetic patients. Amarin says cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among type-2 diabetes patients. It’s a particular concern among diabetics with confirmed atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which is the build up of fats in artery walls.
“The data in our analyses shows consistent outcomes across the at-risk population and supports that Vascepa can help reduce the already significant burden of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes,” said Steven Ketchum, chief scientific officer at Amarin.
Type 2 diabetes is a major problem in America, and often goes hand in hand with high levels of triglycerides. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says one in 10 Americans has diabetes, with 90% being the type 2 variety. Obesity is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
Amarin’s Court Challenges
While Amarin is touting its diabetes study, the company still awaits a federal appeals court hearing after it lost a patent trial. A patent lawsuit was brought by drugmakers Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: RDY) and Hikma Pharmaceuticals. Both companies want to make generic versions of Vascepa.
Amarin lost the first round back in March when a federal district court in Nevada ruled against it. The case has been appealed to a federal appeals court, but the stock plunged nearly 70% after the initial court ruling.
All parties have requested the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to approve an expedited schedule, including a briefing in the second quarter of 2020 and an expedited hearing. This should facilitate a hearing in the third quarter of 2020 (or perhaps early in the fourth quarter) and position the court to rule thereafter, potentially in 2020 or early 2021.
If Amarin loses this battle and generic drugs are introduced, it will obviously be disastrous for the company. But many analysts who’ve been following the case are optimistic that Amarin will eventually prevail.
For the company’s part, it’s going full-steam ahead. The company recently announced an $80 million marketing and education initiative seeking to sell more prescriptions. The campaign will include medical education for health professionals, social media posts, and advertisements on TV and other forms of media.
With America’s doctors’ offices reopening for non-COVID-related issues, Amarin sees an opportunity to push Vascepa. “As early signs emerge of patients returning to physicians’ offices, Amarin plans to emphasize its key marketing messages including positioning Vascepa as the only FDA-approved drug for lowering the persistent cardiovascular risk beyond statin therapy for millions of high-risk patients,” the company said.
Since March, patients have largely avoided doctors’ offices unless they had suspected coronavirus. But experts expect people will now venture back for routine issues such as cholesterol checks and annual checkups.
Earlier this year, Amarin doubled its salesforce to 800 representatives. They were forced to work remotely due to social distancing but should be getting back into the field as things reopen.
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