This past week was a break from the endless, six-year bull market. Still, the market remains effectively at all-time highs, and investors have bought every single dip for close to three years now. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst reports each day of the week to find hidden gems for its readers. Some analyst calls cover stocks to buy and some cover stocks to sell.
Where investors often see really zany price targets with huge upside is in small cap stocks and in shares trading at prices under $10. Most traditional analyst reports predict upside of 10%, 20% or even 30%, but in the low-priced and small-cap universe, it is not uncommon to see huge upside target prices — with implied upside of 50%, 100% or even exponential upside, if things work the way they were predicted.
A harsh reminder needs to be made here, and that is that not all these analyst predictions come to fruition. In fact, some of these companies flop and disappear. When possible, 24/7 Wall St. accumulates and publishes summaries of the most aggressive analyst calls. These are almost never in Dow stocks, and they are also rarely in S&P 500 Index stocks. You just almost never see Dow or S&P 500 stocks rise 50% or 100% in a short time.
Investors can get very excited about upside calls of 50%, 100% or more. Perhaps the most common mistake in evaluating small caps is a belief or a hope that all small-cap or mid-cap stocks grow up to be large-cap stocks. That does not always work out. Stocks of this sort are completely inappropriate for conservative and even moderately conservative investors.
This past week we tracked eight key analyst calls in stocks that were under $10 where major upside was indicated. As you will see, the list is dominated by biotech stocks, which may add on even more risk. Several oil and gas stocks under $10 had analyst calls as well, but those were featured in our 8 Oil Stocks Analysts Want You to Buy. Here are this week’s analyst picks in stocks under $10.
RBC Capital Markets maintained AcelRX Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACRX) shares as Outperform, and the stock was also maintained as Outperform at JPM Securities earlier in the week. Both firms cut their target prices to $8 from $12 in their respective calls. This still leaves implied upside of almost 100%, based on a $4.02 mid-Friday trading level.
Keep in mind that Jefferies downgraded the stock to hold and Cowen downgraded it to Market Perform. Even more importantly, this was an $8 and $9 stock the prior week. It seems hard to get excited here after such a big price drop this past week, but those calls were made that still implied high upside.
On Thursday, Amarin Corp. PLC (NASDAQ: AMRN) was raised to Buy from Neutral at the firm HC Wainwright. What stood out was that the price target was raised all the way up to $10 from $2.50. Amarin’s prior closing price was $1.94, and then shares rose to $2.38 afterward, and shares were above $2.50 on Friday.
Keep in mind that Amarin raised almost $53 million in a restricted stock private placement just a week earlier. Other firms have issued big upside targets here as well, but this one took the cake. Amarin had a market cap of roughly $450 million on Friday and shares just hit a 52-week high.
On Friday, Canaccord Genuity reiterated BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA) as Buy, with a $16 price target. This represents upside north of 75% from the $9.00 share price seen on Friday morning after the call. The firm said that a push-out here is prudent and that it helps preserve long-term profitability. Canaccord Genuity analyst John Quealy said:
BioAmber is developing renewable chemicals (bio-based “drop-in” alternatives to petroleum-based products) with its proprietary industrial technology platform (microorganisms, catalysts, purification). Near term, we favor risk/reward as its inaugural Sarnia plant is expected to commence commercial production by the fourth quarter of 2015.
If you want a more traditional firm making a call, Credit Suisse maintained its Outperform rating and $20 price target on Friday morning.
Corcept Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CORT) was raised to Overweight from Neutral by Piper Jaffray on Wednesday. The big deal here was that the price target was raised to $9 from $2.50. Corcept’s prior close was $3.37, and shares were bumping up against $4 on Friday. Its 52-week range is $1.69 to $4.49, but be warned that there appear to be only two analysts covering this $400 million stock.
Corcept recently has nine poster presentations on mifepristone for the treatment of Cushing’s syndrome at the 97th annual endocrine society meeting. Again, this one is highly speculative.