Industrials

What These 4 Top Analysts Love About Hot Biofacturing Firm Zymergen

Less than a month ago, Zymergen Inc. (NASDAQ: ZY) came public, raising $500 million in an upsized traditional IPO. The company priced its initial public offering at $31 a share and sold 16.13 million shares, about 2.5 million more than it had originally marketed.

After popping to a post-IPO high of $52 a week later, shares had pulled back to close at $31.92 on Friday. Monday morning was a different story, however. Four investment firms have initiated ratings and price targets on the stock and the shares have added about 4%.

Zymergen calls itself a biofacturing company, one that uses natural components rather than petroleum-based chemicals to manufacture commercial products. Its first product, a polymer film called Hyaline, is made from a biological monomer produced from sugar using a microbe that the company has modified and cataloged in its “metagenomic database” made up of some 75,000 biomolecules derived from the DNA of soil microbes. Biofacturing is not only less harmful to the environment, it is also potentially faster and cheaper than petrochemical alternatives.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs gave the stock a Buy rating and a 12-month price target of $55. At Friday’s closing price, Goldman’s price target implies upside potential of 74%. Zymergen’s Hyaline film is scheduled for initial shipments in the first quarter of next year, and Goldman’s analysts say that is the “key to the equity story” for the company.

Once the firm has met that milestone, Zymergen will need to ramp up more products for the electronic films sector “effectively demonstrating the speed and scale at which they can develop and roll out products faster and cheaper than those made through the traditional, petrochemical process.” Goldman sees potential for the company’s films as a component of foldable smartphones.

Among Zymergen’s competitive advantages is its metagenomic database that Goldman says “allows them to predict useful molecules and design pathways for microbes to produce novel materials leveraging the massive scale of AI [artificial intelligence] and ML [machine learning].”

The main risk to the company’s success is its ability to scale production. Goldman downplays the risk somewhat, calling scaling production “challenging” but noting that Zymergen’s “work in their R&D collaborations [has] been able to achieve a significant scale of commercial products.”

Goldman also noted Zymergen’s estimates of its total addressable market and the three verticals in that market. The company believes the total market is worth $1.2 trillion and that the market for electronics products is $59 billion, agriculture adds $47 billion, and consumer care adds another $44 billion. These three verticals, Zymergen’s primary target markets, together account for $150 billion in potential sales.

The foldable smartphone market, according to Goldman’s analysts, “is in the early stages with just 500,000 units sold in 2019, the company expects this to grow to over 80mn units by 2025, which is still well below the growth seen in the overall smart phone market. We expect this to be a significant area of growth for Zymergen products in the future.” Apple, for example, is believed to be looking at a foldable iPhone.

JPMorgan analyst Tycho Peterson initiated coverage on Zymergen with an Overweight rating and a price target of $40, implying upside potential of 25.3%. In addition to Zymergen’s products, Peterson also cited a compound annual growth rate for revenue of about 113%, rising from around $26 million this year to $1.11 billion in 2026. He also expects Zymergen to break even in 2025 and to post EBITDA margins of more than 20% beginning in 2027.

Other brokerages initiating coverage on Zymergen this morning were Cowen, with an Outperform rating and BofA Securities with a Buy rating and a $43 price target.

Cathie Wood’s Ark Genomic Revolution ETF (NYSEARCA: ARKG) owns 1.05 million shares of Zymergen stock, after adding 1,038 new shares Monday morning.

Zymergen stock traded up nearly 4% in the late morning Monday, at $33.15 in a post-IPO range of $25.75 to $52.00.