Top Biotechs With Upside Ahead of Earnings (GILD, AMLN, ARIA, INCY, JAZZ, DNDN, HGSI, ILMN, AMGN, CELG, BIIB, BMRN, LIFE, REGN, AMLN, CBST, ONXX, THRX, VPHM)

October 19, 2011 · Filed Under analyst calls, Cancer, dendreon, Financial, M&A, R&D · 6 Comments 

Earnings season is afoot and we wanted to see how the analysts are ranking the top biotech stocks before these companies begin their earnings reports.  We pulled the top biotech and biohealth related stocks which have market caps of $1 billion and higher and we broke these out into three separate groups by size.  The large-cap biotechs are ranked in descending order by size.  The stocks under $10 billion in market cap and then under $3 billion were broken out in alphabetical order. 

We have compiled some color on selected names, but we also listed the current trading prices, the implied price targets from Thomson Reuters, gave multiples of earnings estimates (from Thomson Reuters) for the forward year (2012 in most cases), showed the trading history and listed a price-to-book ratio.  We did not take any merger news into consideration so that we could just show an as-is model here.

Of the large cap stocks in biotech, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD)  was the leader.  Several other standouts in the biotechs under $10 billion with a high degree of expected upside were as follows: Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMLN), ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARIA), Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ: INCY), and Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAZZ).  Other biotechs such as Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN), Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) , and Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) also screen out as those with the most upside, but that is because of huge share price drops of late.

THE $10 BILLION AND OVER IN MARKET CAP

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) is the largest of the independent biotechs and it remains stuck like Chuck.  At $56.71, the consensus target is $64.85 and the stock trades at a mere 10-times 2012 earnings estimates.  Its 52-week range is $47.66 to $61.53 and its market cap is north of $52 billion.  It is also worth about 2-times book value.  Implied Upside: 14.3%.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) trades around $40.37 and estimates have a consensus price target of $47.96.  This forward earnings multiple is only about 9.0 now.  The 52-week range is $35.28 to $43.49, the market cap is $31.1 billion and the company trades at more than 5-times book value.  Implied Upside: 18.5%.

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) trades at $64.97 and the consensus price target is about $71.86.  This one is more expensive than many of the established biotech players at more than 15-times forward earnings.  Celgene’s 52-week range is $48.92 to $67.01, its market cap is $29.8 billion, and it trades at nearly 5-times book value.  Implied Upside: 9.8%.

Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) remains the big-cap recovery stock of biotech.  At $102.00, its consensus price target is $110.36, and it trades at close to 16-times forward earnings.  The market cap is about $24.7 billion, the 52-week range is $57.58 to $109.63, and the company is worth about 4-times book value. Implied Upside: 8.5%.

UNDER $10 BILLION IN MARKET CAP

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) trades at $33.05 and analysts have a consensus price target of $36.25. Unfortunately, this one is expected to lose money this year at -$0.31 EPS and next year’s earnings are expected to be -$0.04.  The 52-week range is $21.70 to $34.50, its market cap is $3.7 billion, and it is listed as trading at close to 5.0-times book value. Implied Upside: 9.6%.

Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) trades around $26.56 and the consensus price target is about $42.90.  The company trades at more than 18-times next year’s earnings estimates, its 52-week range is $25.57 to $79.40, its market cap is about $3.3 billion, and it trades at almost 2.9-times its book value.  Implied Upside: 62%.

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) may be difficult to compare after a huge run higher followed by a recent tank in the share price. It is also on the equipment side. Shares are back down around $37.24 and the consensus analyst price target is now down to $52.66.  The company now trades at barely 9-times forward earnings, if you trust the “E” in that P/E ratio.  LIfe’s 52-week trading range is $35.30 to $57.25, its market cap is about $6.7 billion, and the stock is worth about 1.5-times the stated book value. Implied Upside: 41%.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) trades around $60.00 after a large drop due to a $400 million convertible note offering.  The consensus price target is about $66.14.  The company is also expected to lose as much as $2.00 per share in 2012.  It has a 52-week trading range of $24.29 to $79.90, its market cap is $5.5 billion, and it trades at more than 12-times its previously stated book value.  Implied Upside: 10.1%.

UNDER $3 BILLION IN MARKET CAP

Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMLN) trades around $10.14 and the consensus price target from analysts is $13.44.  The 52-week trading range is $8.03 to $21.23, its market cap is about $1.5 billion, and it is worth about 4.6-times book value. Implied Upside: 32.5%.

ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARIA) trades around $10.25 and the consensus price target is $15.44.  The company is expected to have losses this year and next.  Its 52-week trading range is $3.51 to $13.50, its market cap is $1.35 billion, and the book value at the last report was barely positive.  Implied Upside: 50%.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) was another big winner earlier in the year and its shares are now at $36.71 versus a consensus price target of $40.82.  This used to be a value stock but now trades at closer to 22-times next year’s earnings estimates.  The 52-week range is $20.81 to $39.29, the market cap is $2.24 billion, and it trades at just over 3-times book value.  We once considered this a biotech buyout target, but that is in the past. Implied Upside: 11%.

Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN) shares are now around $9.40 and the consensus analyst target has come down all the way to $13.72.  The company has no forward P/E ratio now as it is expected to lose money.  The 52-week range is $7.81 to $43.96, its market cap is down to $1.4 billion, and it is listed as being worth more than 3-times its own stated book value.  Implied Upside: 45%.  Shares have fallen far from grace, so analyst targets and the ratios may all look a bit off.  We also cannot count on estimates since the analysts and the company got this one so wrong on the end demand for Provenge.  Now we have to hope that Provenge can have many more expanded uses outside of prostate cancer or this is a hard one to follow.  What is odd is that Provenge is being tested for other uses and those could reignite interest if more promising data ever comes out.  If not, let’s just say this was a painful lesson in biotech.

Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) is now up around $12.81 after buyout rumors and the consensus target is still listed as being roughly $24.00.  The company trades at about 24-times next year’s earnings estimates, its 52-week range is $10.40 to $30.15, its market cap is now under $2.5 billion, and it is worth about 5.3-times its book value. Implied Upside: 87%.

Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ: INCY) trades around $14.04 and anlaysts have a consensus price target of $22.92 on the stock.  It is expected to lose money this year and next year and the 52-week range is $12.58 to $21.15. While there is a $1.77 billion market cap, Incyte’s is listed as having a negative book value as laibilities exceed assets.  Implied Upside: 63%.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAZZ) trades around $40.00 after a sharp drop due to an FDA warning.  That may make the figures a bit distorted.  The consensus price target is $54.00 but that does not include the FDA impact.  Jazz trades at only about 10.6-times next year’s earnings estimates. Its 52-week range is $10.51 to $47.88, its market cap is almost $1.7 billion, and the company trades at close to 16-times an implied book value. Implied Upside: 35%.

ONYX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONXX) trades at close to $34.50 and the consensus target is closer to $44.60.  It is one which is also expected to lose money this year and next year.  The 52-week trading range is $26.17 to $45.90, its market cap is $2.2 billion, and the stock trades at close to 3.5-times its book value. Implied Upside: 29.2%.

Seattle Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SGEN) trades around $20.50, above the $19.15 consensus analyst price target.  The company is expected to lose money in 2011 and 2012. With a 52-week range of $12.29 to $22.37, its market cap is $2.35 billion, and it trades at close to 9-times book value.  Implied Upside: NEGATIVE by -6.5%.

Theravance, Inc. (NASDAQ: THRX) trades around $21.40 and analysts have a price target of $27.43 for the stock.  The company is another one expected to lose money this year and next.  The 52-week range is $16.44 to $28.95, the market cap is $1.8 billion, and it is another one that trades with a negative tangible asset level.  Implied Upside: 28%.

ViroPharma Incorporated (NASDAQ: VPHM) trades around $19.00 and the consensus price target is $23.54. Due to an expected drop in royalties, its earnings are expected to be halved in 2012 versus 2011.  Its 52-week range is $14.39 to $22.16, its market cap is about $1.45 billion, and it trades at about 1.5-times its stated book value with a large portion of assets as intangible assets.  How this one looks on a standalone basis through time is a guess.  Implied Upside: 24%.
*******

On all of these implied upsides, please be sure to do your own research.  We encourage our readers to challenge Wall Street analysts rather than merely following them blindly.  Many cases have been there before were the analysts were just dead wrong.  We also cannot help but notice how the biotech sector often has two very same observations based upon the exact same set of data, yet one analyst will say “Buy” and the other will say “Sell.”

JON C. OGG

Odds-Making on a Human Genome Sciences Acquisition (HGSI, GSK, BIIB, MRK)

October 18, 2011 · Filed Under Financial, Lupus, M&A, Rumor · Comment 

Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) is surging on reports that GlaxoSmithKline PLC (NYSE: GSK) could be set to make a $25.00 per share offer to acquire the company.  The report surfaced in the Daily Mail out of the United Kingdom, and we would note that this publication pushes out enough rumors that it could be called the Daily Rumor (or Rumour for the Brits).  It also has a spotty track record.

The reason for the speculation is simple… GSK was long thought of to be the natural buyer because of the long pacts that are in place already.  The two already have Benlysta as the lupus treatment under a collaboration pact.  Then there is the issues of HGS’s pipeline.

What is interesting is that the Daily Mail also threw out Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) and Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) could also be suitors.  Our caution here is that those companies would have to want to be involved in collaboration pacts with GSK either way.

It is always interesting when you see a rumor of a 100% buyout premium.  Sadly, even a 100% premium is not an assured price that would get a deal done.  It would seem likely, but others may still fight it as the 52-week high is $30.15.  The thing that would make a deal simple is that the market cap is only about $2.4 billion. 

One issue that current investors could make for undervaluing the company is that the consensus price target from analysts is still above $24.00.  If the stock is worth that on its own, investors could argue a buyout should make it worth even more. 

A deal would make sense for GSK here, but we would be a bit more cautious on betting the farm that another large player would want to buy the company.  It would be normal that GSK would not allow itself to be stuck in a new deal under a change of control if it found the buyer to be difficult or incompetent.  That being said, anything is possible.  This is not the first time buyout rumors have circulated around Human Genome Sciences.

Shares are up almost 13% at $12.68 and the 52-week trading range is $10.40 to $30.15.

Since this is probably the fourth or fifth time we have heard “HGSI Buyout Rumors,” our odds would automatically put the chance under 50% that a deal is imminent just because of the history of rumors.  Still, an acquisition would make sense for GSK or for a large player that GSK would want to work with.  That being said, we’d assign a 33% to 40% chance of a deal… 1-in-3 or 2-in-5.

JON C. OGG

Unusual Analyst Upgrade & Endorsement for Cell Therapeutics (CTIC)

October 13, 2011 · Filed Under analyst calls, Cancer, fda, R&D, Research · Comment 

Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTIC) is a controversial stock in the field of cancer and the company is still aiming for a 2012 debut market launch for its pixantrone drug candidate.  In the last couple of weeks it had reported more positive data and the FDA had earlier this year noted that pixantrone would need a review using a new panel of independent radiologists.  Pixantrone is to be a new treatment for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
 
This morning we saw a very unlikely and very unusual support or endorsement of Cell Therapeutics.  This came from Zacks Investment Research where the outfit was called The Bull of The Day.  That is generally considered a stock that has strong winds behind it and Zacks raised the rating to Outperform.

Zacks noted, “we believe pixantrone is getting closer to approval… We are encouraged by the FDA’s decision to allow Cell Therapeutics to re-submit the NDA for pixantrone for review without the need for an additional trial.”  The report also noted that Opaxio is its second most advanced pipeline candidate as a potential maintenance therapy for women with advanced ovarian cancer who achieve complete remission following first-line therapy with paclitaxel and carboplatin.

The full Zacks report is available here.  Shares are at $1.19 and the adjusted 52-week trading range is $0.95 to $3.30.

JON C. OGG

Private Equity Changes CRO Landscape With PPD Buyout (PPDI, CRL, CVD, PRXL)

October 3, 2011 · Filed Under Financial, M&A, R&D, Research · 3 Comments 

The world of contract research organizations is changing.  The unexpected news hit the wire this Monday that Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. (NASDAQ: PPDI) is being acquired.  This was no gobble-up acquisition where a larger public company preyed on a smaller company.  This was a private equity transaction.

PPD has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired in a $3.9 billion cash buyout by affiliates of The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman.  The terms of the deal call for the assumption of liabilities and for the common holders to receive $33.25 per share in cash.  Before today, the trading range had effectively been $25 to $32 but the stock closed at $25.66 on Friday and that implies a near-30% premium.

PPD has also been north of $40 in the last 5-year period.  That being said, the board of directors has unanimously approved the deal and is recommending that shareholders vote for the transaction.

The attraction here is the CRO business, which aims to help pharmaceutical and biotech companies develop new drugs at lower costs and with less inside oversight.

As you would expect, the deal is subject to approvals and to regulatory reviews, but the transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. The funds combined between Hellman & Friedman and Carlyle were listed as nearly $22 billion and it was also noted that external debt financing is being provided by Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and UBS.

PPD does have a “Go Shop” provision as the terms allow the company to go solicit acquisition proposals from third parties for a period of 30 calendar days from the date of the merger agreement.  PPD can also respond to unsolicited proposals that the board “determines are reasonably likely to result in a superior proposal.”  Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman were given a “right to match” term and the current merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011.

PPD has offices in 44 countries and more than 11,000 professionals worldwide.

Charles River Laboratories International Inc. (NYSE: CRL) is up 1.5% at $29.05 and its 52-week range is $27.76 to $42.84.

Covance Inc. (NYSE: CVD) is up 1.3% at $46.07 and the 52-week trading range is $43.00 to $63.86.

Paraxel International Corp. (NASDAQ: PRXL) is up 3% at $19.45 and its 52-week range is $15.26 to $27.91.

JON C. OGG

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