Since 2019, the healthcare sector has been bracing for the wild ride that would be the election year. However, according to some Street pros, 2021 is looking a lot like 2009, and this could actually be a good thing for the space.
“[We] think 2021 will play out very similarly to 2009 for the health care sector. If in fact the political prediction markets are correct and Democrats seize control of the presidency and the U.S. Senate, the rhetoric on changes to health care policy exceeds the reality of what can be accomplished,” UBS healthcare strategist Eric Potoker noted.
Potoker points out that the 2009 passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had a muted effect on the industry, with demand for products and services rising due to expanded health coverage. Healthcare stocks reaped the benefits of this between 2009 and 2015, and the space outperformed the rest of the market.
To this end, Potoker believes 2021 will play out in a very similar way, and therefore, is pointing to the healthcare space as a must-watch area of the market.
Using TipRanks’ database, we scanned the Street for compelling yet affordable plays within the healthcare sector. Locking in on three trading for less than $5 per share, the platform revealed that even with the risk involved, all three have scored overwhelmingly bullish analyst support, enough to earn a “Strong Buy” consensus rating. What’s more, each boasts a massive upside potential.
Kintara Therapeutics (KTRA)
Working to meet the needs of patients who are failing or resistant to current treatment regimens, Kintara Therapeutics focuses on developing cutting-edge cancer therapies. Based on its diverse oncology-focused pipeline and $1.40 share price, some members of the Street believe the share price reflects an attractive entry point.
Aegis analyst Nathan Weinstein cites the company’s two differentiated, late-stage oncology assets as the primary components of his bullish thesis. These candidates are VAL-083, a small molecule chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a highly lethal brain cancer with a 95% five-year mortality rate, and REM-001, a phototherapy designed for the treatment of cutaneous metastatic breast cancer (CMBC).
Looking at the former, Weinstein highlights the fact that VAL-083 affects DNA in a different way than the current standard of care, temozolomide (TMZ). “We think VAL-083 could show relative benefit, particularly in MGMT-unmethylated patients. Two thirds of GBM patients have an unmethylated MGMT promoter,” the analyst noted.
The MGMT repair enzyme has been found to correct the damage to DNA caused by TMZ. However, patients with an unmethylated MGMT repair enzyme have a poor response to TMZ treatment, which bodes well for KTRA as its therapy has a different mechanism of action. “In our view, data from the ongoing Phase 2 trials presented at AACR (June 2020) are encouraging regarding overall survival (OS) and progression free survival (PFS) data vs historical controls,” Weinstein opined.
As for REM-001, it has been evaluated in over 1,000 patients to-date, and thus has a “well-characterized safety profile,” in Weinstein’s opinion. Additionally, in previous CMBC trials, the asset has demonstrated robust efficacy, including 80% complete response of evaluable lesions.
All of the above prompted Weinstein to comment, “We find the valuation of Kintara in the market to be compelling, as little value is being ascribed to the company, despite having two phase 3 ready oncology assets with sufficient funding in-place to reach multiple milestones ahead.”
To this end, Weinstein rates KTRA a Buy along with a $6 price target. This target conveys his confidence in KTRA’s ability to climb 341% higher in the next year. (To watch Weinstein’s track record, click here)
Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings, 3 to be exact, have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the word on the Street is that KTRA is a Strong Buy. Given the $4.33 average price target, shares could soar 218% from current levels. (See KTRA stock analysis on TipRanks)
DiaMedica Therapeutics (DMAC)
Utilizing its cutting-edge technologies, DiaMedica Therapeutics develops novel recombinant proteins to treat kidney and neurological diseases. With a price tag of $4.20 per share and potential catalysts coming up, it’s no wonder this stock is on Wall Street’s radar.
Representing Craig-Hallum, analyst Alexander Nowak sees multiple value-creating catalysts on tap, noting that the company appears “chronically undervalued.” Looking ahead to Q4, DMAC will have a meeting with the FDA for DM199 in acute ischemic stroke (AIS), where break-through designation, Special Protocol Assessment (SPA), Phase 3 trial design and a Phase 3 study greenlight will be topics of discussion. DM199, DMAC’s lead candidate, is a recombinant form of the KLK1 protein (an endogenous serine protease produced in the kidneys, pancreas and salivary glands).
According to Nowak, this Phase 3 study is the next major potential catalyst and could possibly lead to strategic partnership conversations. He added, “We also think a SPA that confirms exclusion of mechanical thrombectomy and large vessel occlusion and mRS/NIHSS Excellent Outcome endpoints is a big win (basically means replicate the Phase 2 study in the intent to treat population).”
While the meeting will take place later than Nowak thought (he originally expected an August meeting), the delay is due to hiring an external consulting group to help with FDA communication, a “valid and sensible reason for the pushback,” in his opinion.
On top of this, DM199 is being evaluated in chronic kidney disease (CKD). The Phase 2 trial enrollment was temporarily paused in Q2, but enrollment has been trending better. It should be noted that the delays have mostly been related to patients that were nervous about coming into the clinic for the initial setup during the COVID crisis. Bearing this in mind, the analyst expects the data readout to come in Q1 2021.
Summing it all up, Nowak stated, “We still view the Phase 2 CKD trial as the more significant, immediate value-creating opportunity, given the large market and recent industry successes (RETA). But we are more bullish than most investors on stroke too, as the only drug used is more than two decades old, no serious competitors are in the pipeline and approval (which could be done in only a few hundred patients) could lead to a very rapid uptake within 1-2 years.”
Everything that DMAC has going for it convinced Nowak to reiterate his Buy rating. Along with the call, he attached a $15 price target, suggesting 265% upside potential. (To watch Nowak’s track record, click here)
Overall, DMAC shares get a unanimous thumbs up from the analyst consensus, with 3 recent Buy reviews adding up to a Strong Buy rating. At $14.33, the average price target implies 248% upside potential from current levels. (See DMAC stock analysis on TipRanks)
OPKO Health (OPK)
Through its unique products, comprehensive diagnostics laboratories and robust research and development pipeline, OPKO Health wants to improve the lives of patients. OPKO shares have surged 162% this year, but at $3.86 apiece, several analysts believe this stock is still undervalued.
Following the announcement that OPK had kicked off the Phase 2 REsCue study of Rayaldee for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19, 5-star analyst Edward Tenthoff, of Piper Sandler, points out that he has high hopes for the company. Rayaldee is currently approved for secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in stage 3-4 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and is progressing through a Phase 2 study in dialysis patients.
According to Tenthoff, many of the patients in the COVID study will have stage 3-4 CKD, “where Rayaldee has demonstrated clinical benefit.” On top of this, the analyst thinks boosting serum 25D may augment macrophage immunity by secreting potent antiviral proteins targeting.
Reflecting another positive, service revenue of $251 million in Q2 2020 beat expectations as a result of the 2.2 million SARS-CoV-2 PCR and antibody tests performed at BioReference Labs in the quarter. Adding to the good news, OPK guided for 45,000-55,000 tests per day in Q3 2020 and service revenue of $325-350 million in the quarter. It should be noted that this includes the base diagnostic business, which is starting to bounce back. To this end, Tenthoff estimates service revenue could climb 53% higher to reach $1.1 billion this year.
Tenthoff is also looking forward to the somatrogon, the company’s treatment for pediatric growth hormone deficiency (GHD), regulatory filings. Its partner, Pfizer, plans to submit the BLA this fall, with U.S. approval and market launch potentially coming in 2H21. An open-label European study is expected to wrap up this quarter, and will enable an EMA filing in 2021. In addition, pivotal Phase 3 Japanese data in pediatric GHD patients could support a regulatory filing in the country in 1H21.
Based on the therapy’s Phase 3 trial, in which it met the primary endpoint with height velocity, Tenthoff sees approval as being likely.
In line with his optimistic approach, Tenthoff stays with the bulls. To this end, he keeps an Overweight (i.e Buy) rating and $10 price target on the stock. Investors could be pocketing a gain of 159%, should this target be met in the twelve months ahead. (To watch Tenthoff’s track record, click here)
All in all, other analysts echo Tenthoff’s sentiment. 4 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $8, the upside potential comes in at 107%. (See OPKO stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.