Leerink Pulls Back on Price Target on Juno Therapeutics Inc (JUNO) Following Clinical Hold on Pivotal ROCKET Trial

Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO) shares are falling 4% after last week’s hit: the firm’s pivotal ROCKET trial of JCAR015, a product candidate in adult acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) has once again been placed on a clinical hold in light of safety concerns.

Nonetheless, Leerink analyst Michael Schmidt maintains confidence in the rest of the firm’s pipeline, although acknowledges skepticism to the future of JCAR015. As such, the analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on JUNO while cutting the price target from $45 to $34, which represents a 54% increase from where the shares last closed.

Schmidt believes, “While JUNO was able to resume the trial rather quickly following a clinical hold earlier this year, we think the future of this program is now increasingly uncertain as JUNO mgmt. is trying to better understand the therapeutic window of JCAR015, raising the question of whether the company moved into a pivotal trial too fast. While this is a clear setback for the company, we think JUNO’s next-gen antiCD19 CAR-T product JCAR017 represents the main value driver for the company and it holds the promise to differentiate with potential utility in pediatric and adult (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), as well as lymphoma/diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).”

Ultimately, “We remain OP on JUNO which now trades at a discount to its peers, but note that management needs to focus on execution in order to translate encouraging early data generated with its CAR-T therapies into commercializable products in a competitive environment,” Schmidt concludes.

As usual, we like to include the analyst’s track record when reporting on new analyst notes to give a perspective on the effect it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, top five-star analyst Michael Schmidt has achieved a high ranking of #27 out of 4,245 analysts. Schmidt upholds a 65% success rate and garners 27.7% in his yearly returns. However, when recommending JUNO, Schmidt loses 30.3% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit JUNO as a Buy. Based on 8 analysts polled in the last 3 months by TipRanks, 5 rate a Buy on Juno, while 3 maintain a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $39.00, marking a nearly 77% upside from where the shares last closed.

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