It’s a mixed bag when it comes to opinions on penny stocks. These tickers trading for less than $5 per share divide Wall Street like no other; market watchers either love them or hate them.
It’s easy to understand the appeal. First and foremost, you get more bang for your buck. On top of this, with shares changing hands for bargain prices, even what seems like miniscule share price appreciation can translate to monstruous percentage gains.
For some, however, the risk poses too great a threat to ignore. When you look under the hood of these low-priced names, you might find very real problems like poor fundamentals or looming headwinds.
So, how are investors supposed to spot the penny stocks poised to go from rags to riches? By turning to the pros.
With this in mind, we wanted to take a closer look at three penny stocks getting love from the pros, namely the analysts at investment firm Cowen. According to the firm, all three could soar in the year ahead. Using TipRanks’ database, we learned why Cowen analysts are pounding the table despite the risk involved.
Neos Therapeutics (NEOS)
Developing and commercializing innovative products, Neos Therapeutics wants to make a significant difference in the lives of patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other central nervous system (CNS) conditions. Although this name has struggled in the past, Cowen thinks that at $0.47 apiece, now is the time to snap up shares.
Writing for the firm, analyst Ken Cacciatore acknowledges the momentum that was being driven by Adzenys XR-ODT, the company’s amphetamine-based treatment for ADHD, and Cotempla, its methylphenidate-based CNS stimulant also designed for ADHD, has slowed due to the pandemic. However, based on recent prescription trends, the analyst is seeing “signs of recovery ahead of the back to school (via video/classroom) acceleration in Q4.”
Expounding on this, Cacciatore stated, “We continue to believe that management is taking the rights steps with the strategic improvements which seem to be benefiting from the more targeted prescriber base focus and more rapid adoption of the newco-pay assistance/fulfillment program (Rx Connect), to improve the profitability per prescription. And given what appears to be its early success of Rx Connect alongside spending reduction plan and salesforce restructuring we believe Neos could reach profitability by early 2022.”
As the net revenue per pack for Adzenys and Cotempla grew 6% year-over-year to reach $128, Cacciatore argues the company’s efforts are paying off. “Again, we believe these data points appear to reflect the improved commercial approach, and the effectiveness of the company’s Neos Rx Connect pharmacy program which simplifies the previously more complex prescription fulfillment and co-pay assistance,” he commented.
By enabling this access with Rx Connect, physicians can write prescriptions for Cotempla and Adzenys without worrying about patient call-backs. According to management, 30% of prescriptions are currently fulfilled through this program, and after multiple large regional pharmacy chains were added, the total number of partnered pharmacies was almost 900 in June, compared to 800 at the end of Q1.
What’s more, the fact that NEOS is the only company to have both a methylphenidate and amphetamine alternate dose formulation product for the treatment of ADHD is enough to make it a stand-out, in Cacciatore’s opinion. Calling Cotempla the “perfect complement to Adzenys,” he notes that each asset covers one half of the large stimulant market.
The analyst added, “Adzenys XR-ODT has experienced impressive prescription growth over the course of the past year, and is now the preferred ADHD alternative dosage form taking over from Pfizer’s market-leading Quillivant XR as its new-to-brand market share reached the number 1 position.”
Also promising, NEOS offers Adzenys ER, which is an extended-release liquid suspension stimulant product for ADHD. The product is amphetamine-based like Adzenys XR-ODT, but is an alternative dosage form for patients who don’t prefer tablets or capsules. Cacciatore points out that success with the liquid alternative dosage form has already been demonstrated as Pfizer’s Quillivant XR generated over $100 million in annual sales in 2017.
To this end, Cacciatore rates NEOS an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with an $8 price target. Should the target be met, a twelve-month gain in the shape of a whopping 1,604% could be in store. (To watch Cacciatore’s track record, click here)
Turning now to the rest of the Street, 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells have been published in the last three months. Therefore, NEOS has a Strong Buy consensus rating. At $8.33, the average price target is even more aggressive than Cacciatore’s and implies 1674% upside potential. (See NEOS stock analysis on TipRanks)
Dynavax Technologies (DVAX)
Bringing extensive expertise in Toll-like Receptor (TLR) biology and cutting-edge adjuvant technology to the table, Dynavax develops vaccines to protect the population. Thanks to its promising pipeline and $4.30 share price, Cowen believes investors should get in on the action.
Representing the firm, 5-star analyst Phil Nadeau cites Heplisav as a key component of his bullish thesis. The product is an HBV vaccine that has been shown to be more effective than the other currently marketed HBV vaccines in a number of Phase 3 trials. Based on commentary from the firm’s consultants, he argues the asset could capture a significant portion of the $500 million-plus worldwide market for adult HBV vaccines.
Also contributing to Nadeau’s optimistic stance, DVAX has agreed to several partnerships to further explore if CpG 1018, the adjuvant in Heplisav, can improve the efficacy of other vaccines.
In September, DVAX announced its supply agreement with Valneva to produce up to 190 million doses over five years of Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001. This vaccine is an inactivated whole virus vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and will incorporate DVAX’s CpG 1018 adjuvant. Clinical trials are expected to kick off by YE, with approval potentially coming in 2H21. In addition, the UK government has secured a supply of 60 million doses for €470 million, and there is an option for another 130 million doses for approximately €900 million.
DVAX has already conveyed that it wants to make CpG 1018 a broadly used adjuvant, and has been making “rapid progress in implementing it,” says Nadeau. He notes that this deal is consistent with this strategy, and “in some ways represents a next step.” He added, “The supply agreement is notable as it helps demonstrate the economics that successful development of partnered vaccines could bring.”
According to the company’s guidance, CpG 1018 could capture 15-30% of the economics when used in partnered vaccines. “Though management has not disclosed the exact economics in the Valneva collaboration, we believe they are consistent with DVAX’s guidance and suspect they are toward the middle of the range,” Nadeau commented.
“In our opinion DVAX is significantly undervalued for the potential of Heplisav and the CpG 1018 adjuvant,” Nadeau concluded.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Nadeau sides with the bulls. Along with an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating, he puts a $20 price target on the stock, indicating 370% upside potential. (To watch Nadeau’s track record, click here)
Other analysts echo Nadeau’s sentiment. 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $16, the upside potential comes in at 276%. (See DVAX stock analysis on TipRanks)
La Jolla Pharmaceutical (LJPC)
Last but not least we have La Jolla Pharmaceutical, which develops innovative therapies for life-threatening diseases with significant unmet need. Given its impressive technology, Cowen sees its $4 share price as presenting an attractive entry point.
Analyst Phil Nadeau, who also covers DVAX for the firm, highlights LJPC’s first commercial product, Giapreza, a patented formulation of the naturally occurring hormone peptide, angiotensin II, as a point of strength. Angiotensin II is a potent vasoconstrictor and a key regulator of blood pressure.
The launch has been rocky, with the pandemic hitting the acute care in-hospital segment hard. That said, Nadeau remains optimistic. “…our consultants think there is a need for new vasopressors in CRH, and therefore we remain hopeful that Giapreza can ramp to become a meaningful product over time,” he explained.
On top of this, in July, LJPC acquired Tetraphase, giving it the rights to Xerava, a novel fluorocycline antibacterial designed for the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections. Even though the therapy’s utilization was most likely impacted by COVID-19, Nadeau has high hopes for the product.
Nadeau argues LJPC will be able to leverage its existing infrastructure to market and promote Xerava, with only minimal additional spend expected.
“Though Xerava has many competitors, the market for antibiotics used to treat intra-abdominal infections is large — patients with appendicitis alone contribute to over 1 million hospital days each year in the U.S. Thus, with promotion, Xerava should continue to grow,” the analyst said. To this end, Nadeau projects $15 million in Xerava revenue in 2021, with this figure ramping to $60 million in 2024.
Summing it all up, Nadeau stated, “Trading with a modest enterprise value, La Jolla is undervalued should Giapreza and Xerava be successfully commercialized.”
Taking the above into consideration, Nadeau rates LJPC an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating along with a $20 price target. This target conveys his confidence in LJPC’s ability to climb 402% higher in the next year.
What does the rest of the Street have to say? When it comes to other analyst activity, it has been relatively quiet. 2 Buys and no Holds or Sells have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, LJPC gets a Moderate Buy consensus rating. Based on the $14 average price target, shares could skyrocket 251% in the next year. (See LJPC stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.