Just How Frustrated Should Investors Be with Advaxis, Inc. (ADXS)? H.C. Wainwright Remains Bullish

Analyst defends ADXS' new "astute" clinical development strategy to re-focus on leading product assets.

Advaxis, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADXS) shares crashed almost 20% on Tuesday after the biotech firm shared a program overview along with third quarter financial earnings for the year that have left shareholders exasperated with the biotech’s progress- or rather, lack thereof.

Specifically, investors’ point of contention with the firm might point to a halt on its trial evaluating ADXS-HER2, the firm’s orphan drug in Europe for bone cancer. Advaxis tying the pause of its bone cancer drug development in a nice bow of pipeline restructuring, directing focus instead to its lead programs.

These lead programs include placing efforts behind: Axal as a combo treatment in HPV-associated cervical cancer as well as a monotherapy; prostate cancer candidate ADXS-PSA; Amgen-collaboration ADXS-NEO (a potential cancer immunotherapy designed to activate immune system responses against the unique mutations in each patient’s tumor); and ADX-HOT, designed to target hotspot mutations and set for clinical study to kick-off by next year.

H.C. Wainwright analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth chimes in with a bullish take all the same, maintaining a Buy rating on Advaxis stock with a price target of $23, which represents a 377% increase from where the stock is currently trading. (To watch Ramakanth’s track record, click here)

Additionally, ADX posted $3.0 million in deferred revenues for the quarter, stemming from the Amgen deal from August of last year, which aligned with the analyst’s expectations, along with a net loss of $0.80 per share, greater than the analyst’s forecast of $0.51. However, Ramakanth notes, “The difference mainly resulted from higher-than-expected SG&A expenses related to the regulatory application of the company’s lead product, axalimogene filolisbac (Axal), in the EU for the treatment of metastatic cervical cancer.”

In reaction to earnings, the analyst now forecasts revenues of $13.3 million and a net loss of $2.16 per share for the financial year of 2017. Advaxis generated cash and equivalents of $89.4 million when closing out the third quarter of the year, which the analyst finds enough to keep operations funded through the middle of next year.

Ramakanth asserts, “While pediatric osteosarcoma is an area of high unmet medical need, we also note that it is a very limited indication with approximately 400 newly diagnosed patients in the US each year. Previously, we only expected ADXS-HER2 to generate peak risk-adjusted revenues of $4M per year, and we believe this restructuring should only have a small effect on the company’s revenue projections. With higher cash burn expected in the coming quarters as the company move into late-stage Axal studies, we believe it was an astute decision to focus the company’s limited resources on the most promising product candidates.”

In fact, not only is the analyst not fazed by the pullback, he wagers upside is still within sight for the biotech firm yet: “We believe that should the EMA approve Axal on a conditional basis, it would represent upside to our current launch estimate of 2020 and could become a significant catalyst for the stock.”

When it comes to the preliminary word out on the Street for the firm’s opportunity, it for now seems positive, with TipRanks analytics demonstrating ADXS as a Buy. Out of 2 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, both are bullish on Advaxis stock. With a return potential of 329%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $21.00.

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