Merrill Lynch’s healthcare analyst Ying Huang weighed in on Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT), after the FDA advisory committee unanimously recommended approval of the company’s liver drug. The analyst reiterated an Underperform rating on the stock, with a price target of $144, which reflects a potential downside of nearly 7% from current levels.

Huang opined, “The panel was in agreement with the ability of OCA to induce significant ALP reductions in the 5mg to 10mg titration dosing structure; however, controversy arose around whether ALP is indicative of disease progression and clinical outcomes. There was debate around ALP as a reliable measure for both moderately advanced disease and severe disease. In contrast, there was consensus that bilirubin is a better indicator of more advanced disease and should be tracked in the confirmatory trial. Despite the disagreement on the matter, we believe it is unlikely the FDA will restrict use of OCA in patients with advanced disease.”

“We expect FDA approval for treatment of all PBC patients by the May 29 PDUFA date but remain wary on OCA ’s market uptake given the questions around ALP ’s correlation to clinical outcomes and gradual physician familiarization,” the analyst concluded.

According to, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Ying Huang has a yearly average return of 17% and a 72% success rate. Huang has a 0.1% average return when recommending ICPT, and is ranked #166 out of 3780 analysts.

Out of the 17 analysts polled by TipRanks, 12 rate Intercept Pharmaceuticals stock a Buy, 3 rate the stock a Hold and 2 recommend a Sell. With a return potential of 83%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $281.29.