5 Analyst Stocks With 50% to 100% Upside Potential

June 20, 2015 by Jon C. Ogg

This past week was exciting, with the Nasdaq finally surpassing its old high from March of 2000 and with the markets trying to price in the impact of a likely Greek exit from the euro. It turns out that investors still want to buy stocks on every single pullback.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst reports each morning to find hidden value and overlooked stocks for its readers. Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy, and of these there are often calls that go well above and beyond the traditional 15% or 20% upside projections seen in most S&P 500 stocks — and much higher than the 8% to 10% traditional upside in Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks.

This last week we tracked five key analyst calls in which the projected upside was close to 50% on the lower end and up to about 100% on the higher-end. Having such a high degree of upside of course comes with far more risk as well. Analysts are not always right, and sometimes the expected outcome simply fails to occur.

Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP) was the most interesting of all stocks this week among the 50% to 100% upside calls. The stock rose literally 95% from Tuesday to Friday, closing at $9.07 after having been $4.64 before the news broke. Canaccord Genuity already had a Buy rating for Synergy, but the news on its IBS and constipation treatment was strong enough for the firm to see a $2 billion long-term drug potential due to the constipation component, so Canaccord raised its target price to $19 from $11. This would have implied upside of about 144% at the time, but the rally this week now leaves an implied upside of about 110%.

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A less aggressive call on Synergy was made by Cantor Fitzgerald. That firm had a Buy rating as well, and it raised its target to $14.00 from $8.50 on the news, still implying upside of 54% if this more muted call proves right.

Aerie Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AERI) had a monster move last week, rallying over 50% after positive FDA news about changing its primary endpoint of Rhopressa. The FDA allowed a change in the drug trial’s primary endpoint in its eye disease study. Needham raised its rating to Buy from Hold, with a $27.00 price target. While this was not the traditional 50% from the price of $20.75, the upside call was versus a $13.27 prior close.

Aerie received an even more ambitious call later in the week. Canaccord Genuity raised its price target to $40.00. With a $20.02 closing price on Friday, that call implies a double potential. Aerie’s 52-week range is $8.84 to $35.89.

Idera Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: IDRA) seems very speculative for a brokerage firm like JPMorgan to come out with such a high upside, but the firm started Idera as Overweight with a $6.00 price target. This was versus a $3.57 prior close, and shares closed on Friday at $3.72. The firm is positive on Idera’s candidates being studied in Phase 1/2 proof of concept studies in its drug target for Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.

Be advised that this stock has extremely limited coverage. Cowen is the only other shop with coverage on Idera, and its rating is Outperform with a $7.00 price target. Idera is a clinical stage company targeting oncology and rare diseases, and it has generated no real revenue yet.

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Pacific DataVision Inc. (NASDAQ: PDVW) may not be a household name in wireless communications applications yet. The company is into location-based solutions that aim to help increase field-based worker productivity and efficiency in dispatch and call center operations. It appears to have been public only since February, and it lacks coverage from the larger brokerage houses.

Pacific DataVision was started as Buy this past week at Canaccord Genuity, but the $79 price target was after a $44.25 close the prior day, and it compares to a Friday closing price of $43.85. After a recent share sale, investors should be expecting coverage from RC Capital Markets and William Blair soon as well. For some balance, or the other side of the coin: Zacks slapped a Sell rating on Pacific DataVision.

Planar Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: PLNR) was raised to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley last Tuesday. The firm issued a $6.00 price target, up almost 50% from the prior close, but compared to a Friday closing price of $4.67. That leaves the 50% ambition only possible in case it pulls back, but we would point out that Planar has a consensus price target up at $6.50, and one of the four analysts has a higher target of $7.50.

Planar has a 52-week trading range of $2.14 to $9.17. Speaking of small market caps, Planar has a mere $106 million market cap, even after being public for more than 20 years. Planar shares were as high as $30 after the prior March 2000 Nasdaq peak. Investors should also consider that Planar was generally a $2 stock for most of the past five years, before it rallied handily in 2014.

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There were six analyst picks in the 50% to 100% range from the prior week. Those featured Advanced Micro Devices, J.C. Penney, Vical, Agenus, Eclipse Resources and New Media Investment Group.

Again, these research calls are far more aggressive than traditional Buy and Outperform ratings in S&P 500 and Dow stocks. The huge upside here sounds positive in each case, but investors need to understand that all these companies have much larger risks than most established companies. Some even have long-term viability risks, if the primary view for the research does not play out the way these analysts expect.

One issue to consider is that investors sometimes give Wall Street analysts too much credit. Analysts covering a stock often have the same or only a little more knowledge about the inner workings of a company and its industry than sophisticated investors.

Analyst reports sometimes feel as though they are all-or-none calls or Hail Mary passes. Some stocks with small market caps and low share prices even end up languishing for a decade, they end up getting delisted and some of the companies even implode. The harsh reality is that not all young and promising companies grow up to become multibillion giants. Another reality is that most public companies that are listed on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange have limited total addressable markets. Sometimes stocks are destined by design to remain small-cap stocks and never make it above a certain size.

Lastly, most small-cap and low-priced stocks tend to only be suitable for investors with a high degree of risk tolerance. Conservative investors, retirees and the so-called widows-and-orphans funds need to stick to larger more established companies that pay dividends, have years of operating history and have businesses that are deemed very stable.

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