Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:AUPH) announced on Monday that Richard Glickman would be taking on new roles as chairman and CEO of the firm following the previous CEO Charles Rowland’s immediate resignation. From FBR analyst Vernon Bernardino‘s eyes, this is a favorable “changing of the guard,” as he pays careful note to Mr. Glickman’s veritable track record of dedication to lupus research.
Cheering the new leadership, the analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on shares of AUPH with a $9 price target, which represents a just under 178% increase from where the stock is currently trading.
With absolute confidence, Bernardino asserts, “We believe Dr. Glickman has the right leadership acumen for completing the clinical development of VS as he is a rheumatologist by training and played an integral role in the development of Cellcept (mycophenolate mofetil or MMF).”
Ultimately, “We see the change as positive, as we think Dr. Glickman, AUPH’s founder and chairman of the board since 2013, has the right acumen for advancing voclosporin (VS), Aurinia’s Phase III-ready candidate therapy for lupus nephritis (LN), to regulatory approval. Notably, Dr. Glickman is a rheumatologist with a long history of working on VS and is a founder of Aspreva, which developed Cellcept, an immunosuppressant therapy considered the standard of care (SOC) therapy for LN. As the stock currently trades 40% below its 52-week high of $5.69/ share in October 2016, we think AUPH remains attractive and recommend buying the shares ahead of the 48-week results expected later this quarter,” Bernardino contends.
Moving forward, as the pieces start to align for the initiation of a global Phase III study come second quarter of 2017, if Aurinia successfully gains the first approval in over 40 years for lupus therapy, the analyst predicts voclosporin could garner at minimum $2 billion in annual peak sales in just the domestic spectrum by 2026.
According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, Vernon Bernardino is ranked #4,321 out of 4,381 analysts. Bernardino has a 25% success rate and faces a loss of 17.9% in his annual returns. However, when recommending AUPH, Bernardino realizes 14.0% in average profits on the stock.
TipRanks analytics demonstrate AUPH as a Strong Buy. Out of 3 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, all 3 are bullish on Aurinia stock. With a return potential of 146%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $8.00.