The bull market officially turned nine years old in the week of March 10, and the major stock indexes closed up for the week after weeks of volatile trading. The market overcame trade war risks from steel and aluminum tariffs, and the European Central Bank muted its quantitative easing bias language. And a super strong jobs report managed to come with slightly less wage inflation than had been seen in the prior month. Companies are still showing positive news around earnings and revenues, and tax reform is still acting as a serious floor for many investors who might have otherwise been worried about valuations.
24/7 Wall St. evaluates dozens of analyst calls each day of the week to find new ideas for investors and traders. This ends up being hundreds of analyst calls each week. Most of the traditional new and reiterated Buy and Outperform ratings comes with upside of 8% to 10% in Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 stocks, and sometimes that implied upside to the price target can be as much as 15% or 20%. Then there are the analyst picks in more speculative stocks, which often come with market capitalizations that are considered small — and some are even in the micro-cap world under $200 million in value. It is the speculative stocks, which often come with very low share prices as well, where the projected analyst price target comes with upside potential of 50%, 100% or even exponential upside.
Investors need to take a breath and relax before getting overly excited about the dream of doubling their money in a stock. The quest to find the small cap stock that can turn into the next Apple, Google, Amazon, Gilead and so on is a rather risky game. Most companies that have very low market caps and low share prices tend to keep having low values and share prices. And some of these companies can be so risky that they could implode down the road.
Investors need to understand that when analysts target 100% or more upside, they are usually the most aggressive analyst calls on Wall Street. These are typically in emerging biotech and pharma, speculative new technology outfits and other oddball companies with business models that may be rather unique.
One major consideration among speculative analyst stocks is that analysts are often wrong. They can see only upside in some cases, and they can underestimate the powers that may be working against a company. Sometimes things just go wrong from poor management or unlucky events that were not seen or known.
Another serious risk in speculative stocks is that a rising market generally needs to be there to support stocks. If the market is selling off, most investors will feel more comfortable in dividend-paying stocks that have steady earnings and long histories of delivering for shareholders. A stock market sell-off similar to the one seen in late-January through mid-February can be absolutely brutal against speculative stocks.
We have included recent trading data, implied percentage upside to the stated price target and, if applicable, a consensus analyst target price from Thomson Reuters.
Here are eight speculative stocks where one or more analysts have issued roughly 100% or higher implied upside to their price targets during the week of March 10.
Durect Corp. (NASDAQ: DRRX) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $3.50 price target at H.C. Wainwright on March 6. The company researches and develops medicines based on its epigenetic regulator and drug delivery programs. This call was made after it posted revenues of $19.5 million and earnings per share of $0.05 a few days earlier, and those were ahead of expectations.
This $3.50 target was up more than 100% from the $1.50 prior closing price, but Durect shares were at $1.85 by the end of the week. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $0.74 to $2.17, and the market cap is almost $275 million.
Evolus Inc. (NASDAQ: EOLS), which has a lead candidate as an injectable formulation of a 900 kDa botulinum toxin Type A complex for medical aesthetic treatments and procedures, was given mostly huge upside in the initial analyst views. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey started Evolus with a Buy rating and a $24 price target on March 5, and Cantor Fitzgerald gave a new Overweight rating and $25 target on the same date. That is up over 100% from the $11.44 prior closing price.
Evolus traded at $10.85 shortly thereafter, but a 12% gain on Friday took its shares up to $12.07. The post-IPO range is $9.60 to $12.97.
FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) was reiterated as Outperform and with a $4 price target at Oppenheimer on March 8, after its quarterly loss was narrower than expected. That was up well over 100% from the prior $1.71 closing price, and the stock closed up at $1.82 a share after the call and in a strong market on Friday.