Analysts Weigh in on Biotech Giants MannKind Corporation (MNKD) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX)

Analysts have mixed sentiments on MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:VRTX). It’s a long fall from the top as MannKind investors know, after watching the stock plummet 87 percent in the last year since Afrezza flopped. On the other hand, some believe that Vertex has potential despite the company’s failed attempt to expand the use of its top drug. Let’s take a closer look:

MannKind Corporation

Joshua Schimmer of Piper Jaffray wasted no time blasting MannKind after the company hosted a conference call to discuss recent developments. Since Afrezza, MannKind’s inhalable insulin for diabetics, proved to be a flop after being talked up as blockbuster drug, MannKind is flailing to regain investor confidence.

MannKind highlighted new programs, but Schimmer writes them off as being “fraught with development and commercial challenges.” He continues, “We still see a flawed and desperate business strategy seemingly geared toward appealing to less sophisticated retail investors, and see no apparent way to generate adequate revenue to offset the spending requirements over the next 12 months for Afrezza.” Since Sanofi backed out of its partnership to produce Afrezza, MannKind is left strapped for cash to market the drug. Schimmer does not believe any other potential partners will step forward. Although MannKind recently sealed a deal with Receptor Therapeutics to develop its Technosphere platform, the analyst is unimpressed by Receptor, calling it a “newly formed company which has little publicly available information to offer.”

MannKind is clearly is trouble and Schimmer does not see a “clear way to move forward.” He explains that all MannKind wages have been frozen until the company can restructure its debt. Schimmer elaborates, “The company noted bankruptcy is an ‘option of last resort’ which it is not currently considering,” but he does believe it the company will delist from NASDAQ by year end.

Overall, Schimmer sees “no reason” to own shares of MannKind and believes “the likelihood that the company declares bankruptcy this year is not out of the realm of possibility.” In light of this bearishness, the analyst reiterated an Underweight rating on the company on February 3, 2016.

According to TipRanks, 2 analysts remain bullish on MannKind while 3 are bearish.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated

Last week, Vertex disclosed that the FDA did not approve its supplemental New Drug Application for additional uses of KALYDECO in people with cystic fibrosis. Phil Nadeau of Cowen & Co. weighed in after the announcement, clarifying that this FDA decision does not change his model for the stock because he did not assume the sNDA would be approved.

Nadeau is not surprised the sNDA was not approved. The request to expand KALYDECO coverage to an additional 23 mutations was based on “sparse clinical efficacy data.” However, the analyst does expect KALYDECO to break into this market of about 1,500 patients in the future. He continues, “Consensus estimates appear to be consistent, and therefore we do not expect 2016 estimates to change meaningfully following this morning’s news.”

Looking forward, Nadeau highlights the company’s sNDA for Orkambi, another drug for cystic fibrosis, to be used in children. Furthermore, the analyst anticipates Phase I safety trials for VX-152 and VX-440, additional CF drugs, to be completed by the middle of this year.

Nadeau reiterated his Market Perform rating for the company on February 5, 2016 with a $95 price target. According to TipRanks, 8 analysts are bullish on the stock and 4 remain on the sidelines. The average 12-month price target between these 12 analysts is $148.43, marking a 71% potential upside from where shares last closed.

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