Can Human Genome Really Double Its Stock Price? (HGSI)

December 28, 2011 · Filed Under analyst calls, Lupus · 8 Comments 

At the end of December, we usually review the biotech sector to see which stocks have the most upside for the year ahead.  The basis of the “implied upside” is the consensus mean estimate from Thomson Reuters.  Sometimes the pack of analysts is very right, and sometimes they all get blind-sided. 

It was interesting to see that Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) was the top biotech and biohealth related stock as far as implied upside for the year ahead.  Perhaps the upside is because analysts were caught off their feet over the doctor-patient adoption despite that no new lupus treatment had been given FDA approval in years.  Perhaps it is now that more clarification is coming on the reimbursement and recommended drugs from physicians.

Either way, this was what biotech traders would refer to as a widow-maker in 2011.  Shares are currently around $7.07 and the $17.06 price target objective from Thomson Reuters implies more than 100% upside ahead.  Can that be true?  Most likely it is because the stock has been sold off even more than most analysts expected: its 52-week range is $6.51 to $30.15.

Many investors still hope for a takeover, but it would realistically be puzzling as to how such a deal could get done now that the share price implosion would leave so many shareholders buried with assured losses.

Read Also: The 24/7 Wall St. Top Biotechs For 2012 Over $1 Billion

JON C. OGG

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 · 1 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

Why Celera’s Buyout Makes Sense (CRA, DGX, HGSI, AFFX, GHDX, GNOM, ROSG, HLCS)

March 18, 2011 · Filed Under Acquisitions, Financial, genomics, M&A, R&D · Comment 

If you would have said ten years ago that Celera Corporation (NASDAQ: CRA) would be acquired by Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE: DGX), most investors would have said that you were off your rocker.  Celera was a leader in genomics at the time and it had a huge mountain of cash that made up much of its value.

Celera’s Berkeley HeartLab unit has a proprietary lipid testing technology, esoteric testing capability, advanced therapy guidelines and patient support services.  The company is also focused on personalized disease management where it is “developing tests and services that identify a person’s inherent risk for a disease and may also characterize its biological basis, aiding selection among treatment options and monitoring treatment effectiveness.”

The value of the buyout is $657 million based upon an $8.00 buyout price.  Interestingly enough, the buyout cost is actually much lower because Celera has roughly $327 million in cash and short-term securities on its balance sheet.  Quest expects only a 1% revenue boost in 2011 revenues.

Celera was deemed by some to have some of the next-generation testing that goes back to when investors were all gung-ho on genomics.  Think testing for personalized medicine.  That day is not yet here but it is getting closer.  The promise goes back to the late-1990s and early 2000s.

What Quest is getting is a deal on the cheap that could offer huge upside when you consider that Quest is much more dominant and prominent than Celera.  Quest was almost 20-times its size in market cap and somewhere around 50-times its size in revenues.

We would perhaps highlight several other genomic stocks out there based in part on this deal.  Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) is now in the drug phase and we all know that it has risen from the ashes back to the genomics days.

Affymetrix, Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFX) is in genetic analysis in the life sciences and clinical healthcare markets and it has been considered a buyout target in the past.

Genomic Health Inc. (NASDAQ: GHDX) has breast cancer testing and is worth $675 million in its market capitalization.

Complete Genomics, Inc. (NASDAQ: GNOM) develops and commercializes a DNA sequencing platform for human genome sequencing and analysis and it worth nearly $190 million in market cap.

Rosetta Genomics Ltd. (NASDAQ: ROSG) develops microRNA-based diagnostic and in Israel, but its market cap is so small that most may forget that it is even there.

HELICOS BIOSCIENCES (HLCS) is pink-sheet listed now, but it is the one that was aiming for the $1,000 genome map.

JON C. OGG

Benlysta Approval Cheat Sheet: What You Need to Know (HGSI, GSK)

March 9, 2011 · Filed Under analyst calls, Cancer, fda, genomics, Lupus · Comment 

It is official… The FDA has approved Benlysta as the first new drug regimen for systemic lupus in  over 50 years.  Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) and partner GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) are sure to have a Blockbuster on their hands.  The treatment is for the treatment of adult patients with active, autoantibody-positive systemic lupus erythematosus who are receiving standard therapy.

We want to stress that analyst data is going to change greatly and we want a snapshot here of what this looks like before the change.  The side-effects have taken a lot of space, and those are just verbatim.  The rest after that is where the guts of the outlook is.  We have been keeping tabs on a few side-bar issues going into this approval and here is are some of the key issues we think you need to know:

First is that we have been expecting Human Genome Sciences to win approval.  Not everyone was, but this is not an issue we see being negative for Human Genome regardless of how this stock acts in the first few days.  By now you know FDA approval stocks can have mega-moves up down and back and forth. The cost is currently aimed at $35,000 per patient per year.  There will be discounts and exceptions but this is within the range we were expecting.

THERE ARE SOME LIMITATIONS… The efficacy has not been evaluated in patients with severe active lupus nephritis or severe active central nervous system lupus.  It has not been studied in combination with other biologics or intravenous cyclophosphamide. Use is therefore not recommended in these situations.  What you need to know: Like it or not, off-labeling will occur here.  Think about it, 50+ years since the last approval…

TIMING & REVENUE HOPES… The companies are aiming for deliveries to begin to doctors within a couple of weeks, which of course will be an average.  That means that revenues can actually start sneaking in during this first quarter.  Do not expect much… Thomson Reuters only had estimates of $21.77 million in Q1 and $30.64 million in Q2 for revenues.  The current estimates of $172.37 million for 2011 revenues are fair and the estimates of $495.96 million for 2012 may need to be adjusted.  For 2012 the range is $295 million to $736 million, so it is not like there aren’t some differing opinions.  Our guess is that estimates on the lower end will come up.

SIDE-EFFECTS & MORTALITY RISKS… “Out of 2133 patients in 3 clinical trials, a total of 14 deaths occurred during the placebo-controlled, double-blind treatment periods: 3/675 (0.4%), 5/673 (0.7%), 0/111 (0%), and 6/674 (0.9%) deaths in the placebo, belimumab 1 mg/kg, belimumab 4 mg/kg and belimumab 10 mg/kg groups, respectively. No single cause of death predominated. Etiologies included infection, cardiovascular disease, and suicide. Serious and sometimes fatal infections have been reported in patients receiving immunosuppressive agents, including belimumab. In controlled clinical trials, serious infections occurred in 6.0% of patients treated with belimumab and in 5.2% of patients who received placebo. The most frequent serious infections included pneumonia, urinary tract infection (UTI), cellulitis, and bronchitis. The most frequent infections (≥5%) were upper respiratory tract infection, UTI, nasopharyngitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, and influenza.” Hypersensitivity reactions were reported in 13% of patients receiving belimumab and 11% of patients receiving placebo, and included anaphylaxis (0.6% with belimumab and 0.4% with placebo). Infusion-associated adverse events were reported in 17% of patients receiving belimumab and 15% of patients receiving placebo. Psychiatric events (primarily depression, insomnia, and anxiety) were reported more frequently with belimumab (16%) than with placebo (12%). Serious psychiatric events, serious depression and two suicides were also reported (0.8% for belimumab and 0.4% for placebo).

Analyst estimates… Thomson Reuters has a consensus price target objective of about $34.00 today, with a low of $23 and a high of $45 per share from analysts.  Over the last year shares have traded in a range of $20.56 to $34.49.  Earnings estimates are -$0.43 EPS and $21.77 million in revenues for this quarter; -$0.41 EPS and $30.64 million in revenues next quarter; -$1.47 EPS and $172.37 million in 2011; and -$0.60 EPS and $495.96 million in revenues in 2012.

Buyout or independent… Some still consider HGSI a buyout candidate.  We ONLY consider it a buyout target if GSK wants to acquire it.  Buying the company only gives a half-share of Benlysta and come-along partners do not always work as well in biotech and drug deals.

Company stats… The market cap is $4.85 billion.  Assets in cash and other we are looking at as hard assets are $155.7 million in cash and equivalents, $282 million in other short-term investments, and $448.6 million in long-term investments.  It also has $253 million in plant and equipment. Long-term dent is $434.7 million.

Trading patterns… Average daily volume is down to only 2.3 million shares and March 1 was the most recent day with 5 million shares traded.  That volume will be explosive Thursday.  March options show an open interest of over 100,000 CALLS for MARCH and over 70,000 contracts for MARCH only.

More analyst calls… Gleacher was very positive at the end of December.  Cowen & Co. took a very negative stance.

We will get to see how this begins trade indications early-early tomorrow after the NASDAQ releases its halt time.  Again, trading may very well be all over the place for the next few days.

The links throughout will offer more insight to individual sales targets, but hopefully this offers a bit of a cheat sheet. By morning, much of the analyst data will have changed… that part never changes.

JON C. OGG

M&A Bonanza For Drug & Biotech in 2011 (MRK, PFE, ALXN, DNDN, HGSI, CEPH, UTHR, CADX, AMAG, SNY, GENZ, AMGN, BEC, TEVA, SGMO, LLY, ALTH, CBST, VVUS, AUXL, VRTX)

January 29, 2011 · Filed Under Acquisitions, Anemia, Cancer, Cardiac, dendreon, Diabetes, Heart, Infections, M&A, obesity, R&D, Rumor · Comment 

The game of predicting mergers and acquisitions in the biotech and in pharma sectors is not a new one.  The talk heats up, then it dies down.  A deal comes, followed by another deal, and the activity goes quiet.  This next week is likely to have at least more chatter in the biohealth sector for possible mergers and acquisitions after Barron’s gave a cover story called “The New Doctor in the House: Consolidation.”

Barron’s noted that “as big drug firms buy up smaller, specialty outfits and their most innovative products, better pipelines and sales-force efficiency will boost profits.”  Here is the thing to consider: Barron’s did not really offer anything new or ground-breaking this weekend.  It will have rekindled some hope that M&A is coming in the space.  At issue: pipeline fatigue.  A note we’d throw in as well, dead-dead stocks.  We are going to at least address some of the Barron’s roster, but we want to show you many others which are just as or even more likely acquisition targets.  Some of ours have even been in-play before.

Barron’s threw in Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) and Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE) as the largest of the Big Pharma players and it threw out biohealth names with stock-market values below $10 billion:

  • Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) with a $7.5 billion value after a hueg run-up;
  • Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN) for Provenge for prostate cancer (and future cancers) with a $5 billion market value today;
  • Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) for its Benlysta in patients with severe active lupus nephritis and CNS lupus and a $4.5 billion market cap;
  • Cephalon, Inc. (NASDAQ: CEPH) is one we have rarely looked as since things quieted down there;
  • United Therapeutics Corporation (NASDAQ: UTHR) for its treat pulmonary arterial hypertension and an almost-$4 billion value;
  • Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CADX) was noted for its pain medication without the addiction aspects of morphine and its value is only $369 million;
  • AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAG) was called a value stock despite its recent weak sales and despite its cash burn with a $368 million market cap.

Much of the biotech M&A game hinges on Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) in its chase to acquire Genzyme Corporation (NASDAQ: GENZ).  The latest talk is that a work-out could come to $80 all-in if certain milestones were achieved but the deal is still south of there officially.  As noted above, we have our own opinions on which biotech companies and drug companies could find their way into the hands of a larger acquirer.

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) is likely to continue being an acquirer.  The company recently announced a deal worth potentially $1 billion to acquire privately-held BioVex.  Last year the company said it was aggressively looking for new targets and its $52 billion market cap is the largest of all the independent biotechs in America. The company has more tricks up its sleeve.

Beckman Coulter Inc. (NYSE: BEC) went into play in early December with private equity firms being the likely acquirers of the portfolio of biomedical testing equipment and supplies.  We argued at the time of the premium that it seemed shares fully reflected that value, and shares are actually lower now.

And don’t forget Sangamo Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO), where shares rallied in November on rumors of a potential bid interest from Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY).  It had good news on ZFP Therapeutic program to develop SB-509, a zinc finger protein transcriptional activator (ZFP-TF) of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A gene as a treatment for ALS and the news flow has continued to propel shares higher.  It went above $4.50 on the rumors but now shares trade at $7.39.  The market cap is still low here at $334 million.

Allos Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALTH) has been another name floated out there for M&A possibilities, but things are looking less and less bright for the company.  Shares hit a 52-week low just on Friday.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) has not really gone anywhere as it is deemed a mature company, but it is one we thought for sure that would find its way into being part of a larger company.  Its Cubicin is on the market and it fights severe hospital-induced infections and the market cap is $1.3 billion here.

VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) remains a wild card due to the FDA.  Diet and weight-loss pills have not been given any real love by the FDA.  The exception here is that Qnexa does have serious benefits.  There are side effects, particularly in cases of pregnancy.  We would ask this though: How many pregnant and soon-to-be-pregnant women really diet?  Most doctors don’t even want pregnant women taking supplements, let alone drugs.  IF the FDA approves Qnexa, that $680 million market cap may be worth far more.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (NASDAQ: TEVA)… We have also noted Teva’s mega-cap ambitions, and making more acquisitions would generally get there.

Last year, Morningstar put out a list of three favorites that it sees as acquisition targets in the biohealth space: Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AUXL), Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI), and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: VRTX).  FULL ARTICLE

This should at least give you a better and more concise list of possible deals and deal-makers for 2011.  Just remember this, regardless of what Barron’s or other media outlets try to tell you: not all biotechs have to be acquired, not at all.

JON C. OGG

Big Biotechs With The Most Upside for 2011 (AMGN, GILD, CELG, HGSI, DNDN, INCY, ACOR)

December 29, 2010 · Filed Under analyst calls, Cancer, fda, Financial, genomics, Lupus, M&A · Comment 

Bioheath Investor is creating some ongoing outlook pieces as 2010 ends so we have an outline of what to expect for 2011.  We have already given the “Best of Big Biotech in 2010″ and now we want to focus on “The Big Biotechs With The Most Upside for 2011.”  Using “Big Biotech” implies market caps of those with a market cap of $1 billion or higher.  It was surprising that many of those big biotechs are actually trading much higher than their projected price targets.

Our screen generated 7 of the pack with implied upside of more than 15% for 2011.  Those making the screen were Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD), Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG), Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI), Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN), Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ: INCY), and Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOR) made the grade for those with the most implied upside to the average analyst price targets with a one-year horizon.

We did create a brief table showing the tickers, the current price, the implied analyst consensus price target from Thomson Reuters, the implied upside to that target, and the 52-week trading range.  More importantly, we gave an added breakdown on each with supporting data and color for building such an outlook.

Stock Current Target Implied Gain 52-Week Range
AMGN $56.13 $65.39 16.5% 50.26 – 61.26
GILD $36.54 $44.67 22.2% 31.73 – 49.50
CELG $60.28 $70.48 16.9% 48.02 – 65.79
HGSI $24.63 $35.17 42.8% 20.56 – 34.49
DNDN $35.81 $52.73 47.2% 25.78 – 57.67
INCY $16.81 $21.08 25.4% 8.50 – 17.48
ACOR $27.60 $33.58 21.6% 24.99 – 40.48

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) has been range-bound for so long that we have called it a Big Pharma company masquerading as a biotech.  It is THE largest of all U.S.-based biotechs out there.  The 16.5% implied upside to a consensus target of $65.39 would mean a multi-year high as this one has been greatly range-bound in a $50 to $60 range.  We’ll be looking forward to more data on its prostate cancer indication possibilities.  The market cap here is well over $50 billion and it has so far survived its political risks and reimbursement risks from Washington D.C.  What else is there really to add?

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) has a high implied upside of more than 22% and it ranks among the biggest biotechs in the world with its $29.6 billion market cap.  The implied target of $44.67 has already been breached before as the 52-week high is $49.50.  Gilead even peaked at $55 back in 2008 before the meltdown.  Its recent loss may have become InterMune’s gain.

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) has become harder and harder to evaluate on its valuation versus growth, but grown it has… even if shares have been range-bound.  Its market cap is north of $28 billion based on REVLIMID, THALOMID, and others.  If it makes that near-17% upside to $70.48, that will be a new 52-week high and will be within striking distance of the 2007 and 2008 highs.

Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) is the #2 stock of the implied upside stocks worth more than $1 billion.  The implied event is the FDA review of Benlysta for lupus in March 2011 and if approved it would be the first lupus treatment in the last 50 years.  While the implied upside is almost 43% to $35.17, Human Genome shares have already traded as high as $34.49 over the last year.  Two recent analyst calls could not have been more opposite.

Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN) won the pole position as #1 with the most implied upside.  Dendreon is a 2011 story as it telegraphed that its Provenge is likely to see a later in the ramp up and back-ended growth cycle as more capacity comes on line.  The company is also seeking expanded Provenge manufacturing approval.  While the implied upside is 47% to the $52.73 target, shares have traded north of $57.00 this year.  We recently saw a very bullish outlook from a research report here.

Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ: INCY) is expected to have some 25% upside to its $21.08 consensus target, and it should be noted that it has a 52-week high of only $17.48.  Thomson Reuters expects a decline in 2011 revenues and the story is still one that can go either very well or could backfire as its losses mount.  Incyte’s market cap is still north of $2 billion and its cash is in excess of $400 million as of its September 30, 2010 balance sheet.  Keep in mind that at the time of that balance sheet, debt and deferred liabilities already offset that cash balance.  Incyte is one that could be a huge wild card ahead.

Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOR) is one that is close enough to the 52-week lows that the implied upside may not be believed by many investors.  The implied upside to the $33.58 target is still over 21%, but shares have come off the yearly highs by more than 30% so far in 2010.  Its market cap is barely over the $1 billion line at $1.08 billion and we’d rate this another wild card for biotech investors.

As far as how these big biotech targets compare with a fresh initiation from Credit Suisse, that can be seen here.  Keep your eyes out for both Human Genome Sciences and Dendreon in 2011.  Those are both exponential winners and were up for review in late 2010 as they were among the field of ten-baggers with implied gains of 1,000% or more.

JON C. OGG

Bullish 2011 Outlook For Human Genome (HGSI)

December 22, 2010 · Filed Under analyst calls, fda, Lupus · Comment 

Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSO) has received a positive research call from an analyst targeting upside in the shares.  Gleacher & Co. initiated coverage on the company with a BUY rating and a $30 TARGET PRICE.  The thesis is actually “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Ying Huang, Ph.D, of Gleacher, sees Benlysta receiving a broad label and that concerns of a restrictive label is the key overhang today.  The belief is that the FDA will not completely restrict Benlysta in patients with severe active lupus nephritis and CNS lupus.

The report predicts that the FDA will likely request the company conduct post-marketing studies.  It is bullish long-term, albeit with a slow initial launch, and it ultimately sees over $1 billion in global sales in 2014 that may peak at $3.6 billion out in 2023.

The firm also feels that pricing could bring more upside, and it is modeling $30,000 in the U.S. and $24,000 in ex-U.S. pricing per year.  As far as what upside is there, the firm sees that every $5,000 price increase would add about $4.00 in its price target based upon discounted cash flows.

The firm did note that its own physician consultants have indicated that physicians are likely to be cautious at the start but they are likely to use Benlysta in many more patients through time.

Human Genome shares are up 1.7% at $24.69 today in very light trading volume against a 52-week trading range of $20.56 to $34.49.

We recently highlighted a call from Credit Suisse showing an Outperform rating and $31 target in a broader sector call this month and pitted that against a very cautious call from Cowen & Co. with an Underperform rating and fair value well under $20.00.

JON C. OGG

A Very Cautious Case Against Human Genome (HGSI, GSK)

December 9, 2010 · Filed Under analyst calls, Lupus · 1 Comment 

It was just earlier this week in a broad call that Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) saw a very positive research call in a sector initiation as its stock was initiated with an “Outperform” and a $31.00 price target by Credit Suisse.  Apparently, that was then and this is now.  A new research call almost reverses all of that with an opposite stance.  Cowen & Company initiated coverage of Human Genome Sciences with an “Underperform” rating this morning and the implied value puts the stock as being overvalued.

More important than a formal rating is the target.  Cowen’s Eric Schmidt (no relation to Google’s Eric Schmidt) says that Human Genome Sciences could have a share price that is overvalued by the tune of 30% or even 35%.

While expected to be a big winner with Benlysta against lupus, the new report is looking for peak worldwide sales of $1.7 billion against an implied consensus of roughly $3 billion to $5 billion.

The firm gives the good, the bad, and the ugly… The good is safety and efficacy with an unmet need with minimal regulatory risk and longevity to the brand (remember, it has been about 50 years for a lupus drug).  The bad is an expectation of a sales shortfall due to a smaller real target population with ‘physician conservatism.’  The ugly is that HGSI’s $5+ billion market cap is almost entirely tied to its 50% ownership of Benlysta with GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) and that value may be closer to $11 to $12 per share for its stake and lower sales.

Schmidt gave a lower sum of the parts valuation in a much longer report than this summary of $16.78 per share.

A price target of $16.78 is far different than the $31.00 target from Credit Suisse earlier this week.  It is always interesting to see dual-analysis calls when the same information is available and the opinions are so different.  That is what makes a ballgame.

We have noted some concerns and possible second-guessing of our own opinion here because of the FDA concerns.  This drug seems like one which will receive approval.  Lupus has had no new treatments in two generations.  Frankly, the safety concerns seem low compared to the need and considering that some of the adverse effects could be argued as ‘coincidental’ rather than strictly due to the use of Benlysta.  Still, this is the FDA and making FDA predictions is a knife that cuts hard both ways.

JON C. OGG

Top BioHealth Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades (AMGN, AZN, BAY, BIIB, CELG, EXAM, GILD, GSK, HGSI, LH, NVS, PFE, UTHR, WCRX)

December 7, 2010 · Filed Under analyst calls, Research · 9 Comments 

We have seen many research calls from Wall Street analysts with upgrades, downgrades, and initiations this Tuesday in the world of biotech, pharmaceuticals, and biohealth.  Some of the key calls we have seen are as follows:

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) Started as Neutral w/ $58 target at Credit Suisse.
AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) Cut to Underperform at Credit Suisse.
Bayer AG (NYSE: BAY) Raised to Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) Started as Neutral w/ $68 target at Credit Suisse.
Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) Started as Neutral w/ $60 target at Credit Suisse.
Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) Maintained Buy with $68 price target at BofA/ML.
Examworks Group Inc. (NASDAQ: EXAM) Started as Outperform w/ $22 target at Credit Suisse.
Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) Started as Outperform w/ $52 target at Credit Suisse.
GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) Raised to Neutral at Credit Suisse.
Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) Started as Outperform w/ $31 target at Credit Suisse.
Lab Corporation of America (NYSE: LH) Started as Neutral w/ $89 target at Credit Suisse.
Novartis (NYSE: NVS) Raised to Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) Maintained Outperform at Credit Suisse.
United Therapeutics Corp. (NASDAQ: UTHR) Started as Neutral w/ $57 target at Credit Suisse.
Warner Chilcott plc (NASDAQ: WCRX) Reiterated Buy at BofA/ML.

You can join our free daily email distribution list from 24/7 Wall St. to hear more about broader analyst upgrades and downgrades, top day trader and active trader alerts, news on Warren Buffett and other investment gurus, IPOs, secondary offerings, private equity, and more.

JON C. OGG

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