Biotech Updates: Analysts Comment on AEterna Zentaris Inc. (USA) (AEZS), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (KERX) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX)

AEterna Zentaris Inc. (USA)

In a research issued yesterday, Maxim analyst Jason McCarthy reiterated a Buy rating on shares of AEterna Zentaris Inc. (USA) (NASDAQ:AEZS), with a price target of $11, after the biotech company announced the acquisition of “exclusive promotional rights” to the APIFINY prostate cancer test. APIFINY is the only cancer specific, non-PSA blood test to assess the risk for the presence of prostate cancer, throughout the entire United States pursuant to a new co-marketing agreement with Armune BioScience.

McCarthy noted, “We view the promotion of APIFINY as a win-win for both companies. It can generate incremental revenue for AEZS while continuing to build out the commercial infra-structure in advance of the Zoptrex and Macrilen product launches.”

Based on TipRanks’ statistics, all the 3 analysts who cover Aeterna Zentaris, rate it a Buy. With a return potential of 153%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $10.67.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals

Cowen analyst Boris Peaker reiterated a Market Perform rating on shares of Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:KERX), after the drug firm reported in-line 1Q16 revenue of $6.8 million, versus consensus of $6.6 million.

Peaker noted, “Auryxia US sales were slightly ahead of consensus and the company reiterated annual US sales guidance of $31-34MM for 2016. Our 2016 sales estimate of $31.1M remains below consensus of $33.6M US. Significant sales growth must take place for Keryx to reach its annual guidance, which we view as the key near-term risk for the stock.” Furthermore, Keryx plans to submit the sNDA for Auryxia in Iron deficiency Anemia (IDA) in 3Q16. We anticipate a 10 month review, suggesting approval in 2Q17. Detailed results from the Phase III study in IDA will be presented at the 2016 ASN meeting in November. While we see relatively low risk to approval, we believe that Keryx will have to make a significant effort in convincing docs to use Auryxia in pre-dialysis and insurance companies to reimburse the drug.”

According to, analyst Boris Peaker has a yearly average return of 13.6% and a 46% success rate. Peaker has a 43.2% average return when recommending KERX, and is ranked #191 out of 3914 analysts.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated

Needham analyst Alan Carr reiterated a Hold rating on shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated  (NASDAQ:VRTX), after the biotech firm reported reported 1Q16 with CF revenues of $394 million, which was below the street estimate of $430 million. Orkambi revenue of $223M was below estimates of $259 million, as patient compliance and persistence rates struggled to reach clinical trial levels.

Carr wrote, “Our 2Q16 and 2016 Kalydeco estimates are $175.0M (was $180.0M) and $703.0M (was $727.5M). We had previously anticipated label expansion to pts w/ residual mutations. The FDA issued a CRL in Feb 2016 and discussions w/ agency are ongoing. Our new 2Q16 and 2016 Orkambi estimates are $255.0M (was $385.0M) and $1.10B (was $1.65B). We had anticipated more rapid uptake.”

“We maintain HOLD w/ belief that commercial potential of current CF program is reflected in stock. Potential pipeline catalysts are not expected until 2017,” the analyst concluded.

According to, analyst Alan Carr has a yearly average return of 13.2% and a 45% success rate. Carr has a 35.2% average return when recommending VRTX, and is ranked #147 out of 3914 analysts. 

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