The healthcare sector took its place among the winners this year, rising 21%, compared to the S&P 500’s 0.5% growth. The bottom-line for investors? Wall Street’s focus is on the healthcare space, locking in on biotechs in particular.
It should be noted that these stocks are risky in nature, with their shares prone to explosive movements on account of only a few key catalysts like updates on clinical studies or regulatory approvals. The good news is that a favorable outcome can drive massive share price appreciation. However, the bad news is that the opposite holds true.
Given this volatility, it can be difficult to gauge which healthcare stocks are primed to outperform. That’s where Wall Street analysts come in.
Using TipRanks’ database, we identified three trading for less than $5 per share that not only earned a “Strong Buy” consensus rating from the analyst community, but also boasts triple-digit upside potential.
Leap Therapeutics Inc. (LPTX)
Developing innovative monoclonal antibodies, Leap Therapeutics targets key cellular pathways that enable cancer to grow and proliferate, known as cancer cell signaling, and pathways that help the body’s immune system identify and treat cancer. Given its promising technology and $1.77 share price, the company has been impressing analysts left and right.
Calling LPTX a “diamond in the rough”, Piper Sandler analyst Tyler Van Buren points to the initial results of its lead candidate, DKN-01 (anti-DKK1 mAb), as a single agent and combination therapy in highly pretreated esophagogastric and gynecologic cancer patients as contributing to his optimistic stance.
Looking at the monotherapy cohorts, the candidate generated a complete response (CR) and three partial responses (PRs), which demonstrates the mechanism is active, in Van Buren’s opinion. He added, “In combination with PD-1 or chemotherapy, DKK1-high patients or those with Wnt-activating mutations derived significantly greater clinical benefit compared to DKK1-low patients.”
What are the implications of the data? Van Buren argued, “We believe the anti-DKK1 approach has a clear biological rationale, DKK1 expression is a promising biomarker and prospectively-defined indicator for poor prognosis, and the fact that DKN-01 has monotherapy activity is impressive and unique. Considering the data generated to date, we believe DKN-01 has the potential to improve outcomes in historically hard-to-treat solid tumor types.”
Adding to the good news, LPTX counts BeiGene as a partner in the advancement of DKN-01 in combination with tislelizumab (PD-1) in esophagogastric cancer. There’s also an ongoing Phase 2 DKN-01/chemo combo study in 1L gynecologic cancers, with data slated for release by year end, and several ISTs in other difficult tumor types are progressing on schedule.
To this end, should the therapy ultimately receive approval, Van Buren believes DKN-01 could launch in the U.S. in 2025 in the r/r setting and in the 1L setting in 2026, with the estimate for peak sales landing at roughly $900 million in gastric cancer.
To this end, Van Buren rates LPTX an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $6 price target. Should the target be met, a twelve-month gain in the shape of a whopping 240% could be in store. (To watch Van Buren’s track record, click here)
Judging by the consensus breakdown, other analysts also like what they’re seeing. 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. Based on the $6.33 average price target, the upside potential comes in at 259%. (See LPTX stock analysis on TipRanks)
Corvus Pharmaceuticals (CRVS)
Focused on the development of medicines with precise mechanisms of action, Corvus Pharmaceuticals wants to improve the lives of patients with difficult-to-treat cancers like refractory renal cell carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Currently going for $4.09 apiece, several members of the Street think that the share price presents investors with an opportunity to get in on the action.
While boasting expertise in oncology, H.C. Wainwright analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth reminds investors that the company is also targeting COVID-19. On July 7, CRVS unveiled an additional clinical program for CPI-006, its patented monoclonal antibody targeting CD73, and initiated a Phase 1 study to evaluate the drug in COVID-19 patients. The study follows up the release of evidence that supports CPI-006’s immunostimulatory activity, with the candidate also producing strong results in a COVID-19 patient who is a cohort member in the Phase 1 study evaluating CPI-006 as a treatment for advanced tumors.
Taking a closer look at the early results, after dosing, B cells were activated, resulting in surface marker changes consistent with B cell differentiation and isotype class switching. “Separately, in cancer patients, CPI-006 treatment led to elevated serum levels of memory B cells, the cells responsible for long-term immunity,” Ramakanth noted.
The analyst added, “In an ongoing Phase 1 study with CPI-006 as a treatment for advanced tumors, a patient with advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer who was confirmed positive for COVID-19 infection post CPI-006 treatment developed high titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgM of 1:102,400 and 1:3,200, respectively, within six weeks post a single dose. The patient tested negative for the virus at the six-week time point… Additionally, serum levels of memory B cells in this COVID-19 patient increased to 30% of total B cell count, from 16%, which is consistent with the levels seen in cancer patients treated with CPI-006.”
All of the above led Ramakanth to conclude that the candidate has significant potential as a COVID-19 treatment. Therefore, if the COVID-19 study, which is designed to enroll up to 30 COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms, meets the required endpoints, a randomized study of CPI-006 will be initiated. These results could potentially support a BLA filing for FDA approval, in Ramakanth’s opinion.
In line with his optimistic take, Ramakanth stayed with the bulls. In addition to reiterating a Buy recommendation, he left the price target at $10, suggesting 145% upside potential. (To watch Ramakanth’s track record, click here)
The bulls have it on this one. Out of 3 total reviews published in the last three months, all 3 analysts rated the stock a Buy. So, CRVS gets a unanimous Strong Buy consensus rating. Given the $8.33 average price target, shares could soar nearly 100% in the next twelve months. (See Corvus stock analysis on TipRanks)
Eyenovia Inc. (EYEN)
Last but not least, we come across Eyenovia, which uses its cutting-edge microdosing technology to develop treatments for conditions that affect the eyes. With some of its clinical activities back up and running, its $2.70 share price could reflect an attractive entry point.
Recently, EYEN revealed that it had resumed patient enrollment at nearly all clinical sites for its Phase 3 CHAPERONE study, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to temporarily halt enrollment. The study is evaluating the safety and efficacy of MicroPine for the reduction of progressive myopia using its atropine topical micro-formulation delivered by the Optejet dispenser.
Even though the health crisis spurred headwinds, the follow-up and monitoring of previously-enrolled CHAPERONE patients via telemedicine and remote monitoring processes were able to progress.
Writing for Ladenburg, analyst Matthew Kaplan pointed out, “The company has shared positive preliminary usability data of the Optejet, where patients as young as 5 years old were able to self-administer treatment. Importantly, EYEN has initiated strategies to maintain the integrity of the data for patients already enrolled in the trial with the institution of virtual monitoring.” Additionally, he argues that top-line data could potentially still come by 2023.
On top of this, the company’s pipeline includes its MicroLine program designed for the presbyopia (farsightedness) indication. Currently, there aren’t any FDA approved treatments available for the condition, and the standard of care is reading glasses or contact lenses. While the program’s two Phase 3 studies have been delayed thanks to COVID-19, management believes it will be able to initiate the trials in 2020. Kaplan added, “Initial market research confirmed the company’s commercial assumptions that high-income middle-aged subjects would be receptive to MicroLine.”
If that wasn’t enough, its MicroStat product has demonstrated compelling results in both the MIST-1 and MIST-2 studies. As a result, EYEN plans to assess the manufacturing and stability batches as well as submit an NDA during 2H20. “With Eyenovia’s plan to price MicroStat on parity to the current eye drops based on their market research, and with an estimated 80 million dilated eye exams and ~4 million surgeries requiring dilation performed each year, we believe it could represent a significant market opportunity for MicroStat,” Kaplan commented.
As Kaplan sees the company’s strategy as being very much intact, the deal is sealed. To this end, he kept a Buy rating and $19 price target on the stock. This target conveys his confidence in EYEN’s ability to climb 604% higher in the next year. (To watch Kaplan’s track record, click here)
The rest of the Street agrees with Kaplan. Only Buy ratings, 3, in fact, have been issued in the last three months, so the consensus rating is a Strong Buy. At $13, the average price target puts the upside potential at 381%. (See EYEN stock-price forecast on TipRanks)
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