Times are changing on Wall Street. The COVID-19 pandemic and the havoc it’s wreaking have induced levels of return dispersion unlike anything witnessed since the Great Depression, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for investors.
Up until recently, the decade had seen low return dispersion, or the variation among stocks’ returns was relatively limited. Given the narrower range of returns, it became more challenging to zero in on the names escaping the attention of other stock pickers. As a result, there was a surge in index-tracking passive funds, and several active managers found it difficult to deliver wins.
Enter COVID-19-related economic uncertainty. Not only have global markets been rattled, but corporate profits have also been pushed lower. In addition, valuations have been propelled in every possible direction. This in turn has caused stock returns to diverge the most since the recession in 2007-2009, notes Goldman Sachs strategist Ryan Hammond.
Hammond argues that return dispersion comes down to two factors, stock correlations and market volatility, with it at the highest levels when correlations fall and volatility is heightened. While volatility was primarily to blame, the Goldman Sachs strategist points out that lower correlations usually come hand in hand with declining volatility, and thus, he expects the dispersion to persist. This presents investors with an exciting opportunity to scope out the names poised to outperform, especially in the midst of earnings season.
Bearing this in mind, we used TipRanks’ database to evaluate the long-term growth prospects of three stocks in Goldman Sachs’ coverage universe. According to the platform, substantial gains could be in store for each ticker. We’re talking about over 30% here. Let’s jump right in.
Alector Inc. (ALEC)
The first of Goldman Sachs’ picks is Alector, a biotech name that uses the power of the immune system to strengthen pipeline innovation, de-risk clinical programs and advance therapies to treat neurodegenerative and rare, orphan neurological diseases. Even though 2020 has already seen shares climb 40% higher, the firm believes there’s plenty of fuel left in the tank.
Writing for Goldman Sachs, four-star analyst Graig Suvannavejh calls the company a “leader in the rapidly emerging I-N space.” To back up this claim, he points to ALEC’s significant focus on therapies that target neurodegeneration (NDG), a space with a very high unmet medical need. This area includes diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, ALS as well as others. Additionally, the fact that its targets are genetically defined could boost overall probabilities of success (POS) and its diverse portfolio of earlier-stage assets gives it more pipeline optionality.
When it comes to the AD opportunity specifically, Suvannavejh likes what he’s seeing. “We favor ALEC for its prospects for Phase 2-ready AL002 and AL003, antibodies directed against TREM2 and CD33/SIGLEC 3, respectively, for AD, which are partnered with AbbVie, and, given the extreme unmet medical need in AD, we model $7.5 billion and $5.9 billion, respectively in risk-unadjusted peak year sales,” he commented.
That being said, for 2020, Suvannavejh argues that ALEC’s growth story will be centered around AL001, its sorting receptor that regulates levels of progranulin (PGRN) in plasma and the brain, in frontotemporal dementia (FTD), with a pivotal trial slated for this calendar year. He noted, “With that in mind, and incremental AL001 data updates expected this year, we see opportunities for positive share inflection from current levels…we see another meaningful ($1.8 billion peak unadjusted sales) and near-term (2024 estimated U.S. launch) revenue opportunity for ALEC, given the potential for ALEC to enter the market ahead of its competitors in the FTD space…”
Based on all of the above, Suvannavejh joined the bulls. In addition to initiating his coverage with a Buy rating, he put a $32 price target on the stock. This implies shares could surge 32% in the next twelve months. (To watch Suvannavejh’s track record, click here)
What does the rest of the Street have to say? It turns out that other analysts are on the same page. With 100% Street support, or 6 Buy ratings to be exact, the message is clear: ALEC is a Strong Buy. Not to mention the $36.20 average price target puts the upside potential at 50%. (See Alector stock analysis on TipRanks)Adverum Biotechnologies (ADVM)
Another biotech company, Adverum is focused on developing ADVM-022, its novel anti-VEGF gene therapy candidate for chronic, degenerative eye diseases. Shares are up 41% in the last month, but there’s still room for ADVM to grow, according to Goldman Sachs.
Graig Suvannavejh, who also covers ALEC, argues that ADVM-022 could be “transformative” based on the current nature of the anti-VEGF space.
Expounding on this, he stated, “While the anti-VEGF market is large and well-established (c.$11.5 billion in 2019 global sales for current branded products), current treatment with anti-VEGF is sharply limited by the high frequency of direct injections into the eye. This results in lack of compliance, especially given an older patient population, which limits effective treatment.”
Looking at ADVM-022, it could be the ideal treatment for retinal disease thanks to the AAV.7m8 vector, which was designed via directed evolution for high infectivity and preferential transduction of retinal cells.
“As a result (and in contrast to a chief competitor), ADVM-022 can be delivered via IVT injection, thereby in our view, facilitating the potential of a seamless transition into the current treatment paradigm. Moreover, ADVM-022’s transgene has shown proven real-world efficacy, which serves, in our view, to partially de-risk its still early-stage clinical development,” Suvannavejh said.
Even with the currently approved branded therapies, Eylea and Lucentis, set to lose exclusivity in the coming years, Suvannavejh believes the market will most likely put a price premium on differentiated therapies, which bodes well for ADVM. Additionally, while ADVM-022 isn’t expected to launch commercially until 2027, the analyst’s risk-adjusted revenue estimates exceed the consensus by 2033. The candidate could also potentially be evaluated for use in other indications.
This seals the deal for Suvannavejh. To kick off his coverage, he assigned a Buy rating and $17 price target. Should this target be met, a twelve-month gain of 42% could be in the cards.
ADVM has also received support from other Wall Street analysts. 5 Buys and 1 Hold were issued in the last three months, making the consensus rating a Strong Buy. At $17, the average price target matches Suvannavejh’s. (See Adverum stock analysis on TipRanks)Sogou Inc. (SOGO)
Moving into a different industry entirely, we come across Chinese search engine Sogou. It’s no secret that the company has underperformed as of late, but Goldman Sachs thinks the tide could be turning.
Ahead of its Q1 earnings release on May 4, four-star analyst Piyush Mubayi acknowledges that SOGO has had a rough going recently. He predicts that search-related revenues will dip 4%/3% year-over-year in Q1/Q2, compared to the 19%/11% year-over-year Q1/Q2 declines at Baidu Core Search. It should also be noted that the analyst cut the 12-month forward target multiple of SOGO’s core business from 9x to 8x, compared to 10x at Baidu, to account for the slower revenue growth outlook.
Even though Mubayi believes the tech company will continue to face macro headwinds in the near-term as well as fierce competition in the online advertising industry in the long-term, there are still reasons to be optimistic.
“The relatively more resilient growth outlook in the near term is primarily due to 1) smaller search revenue scale (at ~1/9 of that at Baidu in 2019) and 2) lower exposure to healthcare vertical,” Mubayi explained.
Adding to the good news, SOGO has remained stable in the mobile query space. According to CTR, looking at mobile queries in December 2019, the company controlled 18.3% of the market in China, down only slightly from 18.5% market share in December 2018. As a result, Mubayi expects that the second largest search player in China will be able to maintain its control of the market.
When it comes to advertising, Mubayi commented, “While we remain cautious on the overall advertising industry into 2020E and the increasing competition in ad budget allocation to search in the long term, we think the risk reward at current stock price is to the upside.”
All of this prompted Mubayi to upgrade the rating from a Neutral to a Buy. Given the $4.50 price target, shares could rise 33% in the coming twelve months. (To watch Mubayi’s track record, click here)
Judging by the overall consensus breakdown, it has been relatively quiet with respect to other analyst activity. Only one other review has been published recently, with the analyst giving the stock a Hold recommendation. Based on 1 Buy and 1 Hold, SOGO earns a Moderate Buy consensus rating. In addition, shares could surge 32% thanks to the $4.45 average price target. (See Sogou price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)