Following J.P. Morgan’s 34th annual healthcare conference last week, Jason McCarthy of Maxim Group was quick to voice his optimism for both Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) and Mast Therapeutics Inc (NYSEMKT:MSTX). Both companies have robust pipelines and McCarthy believes they both have the potential to release groundbreaking drugs.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc
Following the conference, McCarthy reiterated a Buy rating today on the biotech company with a $14 price target due to promising updates in the company’s pipeline. He explains, “Inovio has multiple incremental catalysts in 2016 that should aid in getting though what we see as a potential data trough.”
McCarthy points to VGX-3100, the company’s lead pipeline candidate, as one of the reasons to be optimistic. The vaccine targets precancerous cervical dysplasia and will begin Phase III testing after meetings with the FDA. The trial will include about 400 patients, positioning the drug for a potential commercial launch in 2020. Separately, the analyst is also bullish on INO-3112, a pipeline therapy for HPV-related head and neck cancer, which is slated to start Phase II testing.
The analyst also touches on Inovio’s monoclonal antibody technology, which he believes “can be leveraged for oncology and offers an intriguing approach to combination therapy.” He explains this is a better route than developing CAR-T therapies because they have adaptive resistance, making it difficult to treat.
According to TipRanks, two analysts polled in the last three months are bullish on Inovio. The average 12-month price target between these two analysts is $16.50, marking a 231% potential upside from current levels.
Mast Therapeutics Inc
McCarthy is bullish on MST-188, also known as vepoloxamer, a pipeline drug intended to treat sickle cell disease. The company is continuing to build towards top-line data, expected in the second quarter of this year. Pending positive data from the EPIC study testing the drug, the analyst estimates that it could be in U.S. markets the second half of this year and in Europe by 2018.
He adds, “Vepoloxamer has a good safety profile and has been shown to reduce crisis duration and intensity in previous studies. Thus, if approved, uptake could be rapid. Recall that there are no approved therapies for SCD to treat pain crises, which accounts for over 100,000 hospitalizations per year in the U.S. alone.”
Overall, McCarthy reiterates a Buy rating on the company with a $5 price target, noting that the company has the potential to come out with the first sickle cell disease treatment in over 50 years.
Three analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months are all bullish on the stock. The average 12-month price target for the stock is $1, marking a 143% potential upside from where shares last closed.