Healthcare analysts explain their bullish views on AEterna Zentaris Inc. (USA) (NASDAQ:AEZS) and OraSure Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSUR) following the signing and termination of agreements, respectively. Both analysts anticipate a boost in stock price as game-changing data comes soon for Aeterna while OraSure benefits from reduced costs and profitable opportunities.
AEterna Zentaris Inc. (USA)
Analyst Jason Kolbert commented on AEterna ZEntaris following the signing of a licensing agreement with Cyntec Co to develop and commercialize its cancer drug, Zoptrex, in Southeast Asia for Endometrial Cancer. Aeterna will receive an upfront payment from Cyntek, royalties from Zoptrex sales, and regulatory and commercial milestones. The analyst notes that Zoprex is in the final stages of a p3 study in EC, with data expected in Q4. The analyst states, “The study is powered to 80% to detect a significant difference in [overall survival] vs. standard doxorubicin. If positive, Aeterna could file an NDA in 1H17.”
The analyst notes that there are no approved drugs to treat advanced EC, though Germany has been using doxorubicin for many years. While the drug is “highly effective”, it tends to be toxic for many patients. The analyst notes that Zoptrex has a leg up over its competitor, JJ’s Doxil. He explains, “Note that unlike J&J’s Doxil (>$500M per year), a lipid formulation of Dox, which is ‘just another’ Dox and delivered systemically, Zoptrex is a new chemical entity and a targeted therapy that removes systemic toxicity.” Furthermore, the analyst claims Zoptrex’s technology could have improved efficacy. The analyst believes that Zoptrex has a high likelihood of FDA approval should it meet its 80% OS goal. Kolbert notes that improved toxicity levels for Zoptrex over Doxil represent a significant competitive advantage for Aeterna, as doctors who traditionally opted for Doxil, but who struggled with toxicity, would likely switch to Zoptrex.
According to Koblert, potential Zoptrex approval represents a significant catalyst for Aeterna by exposing the company to new markets. He explains, “The opportunity for Zoptrex (if approved) could extend well beyond the 10,000 EC patients and into larger markets for ovarian, prostate, bladder, colorectal and renal cancers, as well as lymphoma and leukemia.” The analyst is also bullish regarding Aetna’s pipeline progress. He states, “With a lack of data (data trough period) for many companies in 2016, we see Aeterna as an exception with two pivotal studies reading out in the short term (<six months). He continues, “As such we continue to see AEZS as an exceptional value in the space.”
OraSure Technologies, Inc.
BTIG analyst Karen Koski provided her views on OraSure following the announced termination of the HCV Co-Promotion Agreement with Abbvie, set to take affect December 31, 2016. Despite the fact that the company will lose the $3.4 million per quarter in exclusivity payments from the agreement, the analyst believes “there are many potential offsets to this lost rev and operating profits.” The analyst points to sustained growth in HCV product sales, the potential signing of new agreements with other companies, cost reductions resulting from the termination, and improvement in COGS as catalysts for the stock.
The analyst specifically discusses new business opportunities recently highlighted by management as another reason to invest in OSA. These include a various supply contracts and sales of tis OraQuick HIV self-test OUS. The analyst is particularly bullish regarding management’s optimism. She explains, “, importantly and in line with our thesis, mgmt. also indicated that profitability will be maintained in 2017.”
The analyst reiterates a Buy rating and slightly reduces her price target from $9 to $8. According to TipRanks, out of the 4 analysts who have rated the stock in the past 3 months, 3 gave a Buy rating while 1 remains on the sidelines. The average 12-month price target for the stock is $8.25, marking a 33% upside from where shares last closed.