Merrill Lynch Changes Ratings for Biotech Stocks ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACAD) and Rockwell Medical Inc (RMTI)

Tazeen Ahmad at Merrill Lynch, one of Wall Street’s best performing analysts, is out with newly bullish insights on ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ACAD) while raising a red bearish flag on Rockwell Medical Inc (NASDAQ:RMTI) on back of third-quarter prints just released by these volatile biotech stocks.

Tazeen Ahmad has a very good TipRanks score with a 52% success rate and a standing of #96 out of 4,181 analysts. Ahmad gains 44% in yearly returns. When recommending ACAD, Ahmad yields 40.6% in average profits on the stock. When suggesting RMTI, Ahmad earns 0.0%.

Let’s take a closer look:

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.

ACADIA shares are on a 16% ascent after delivering a third-quarter beat last night. In reaction, Ahmad upgrades the stock from Neutral to Buy, but lowers the price target from $39 to $35, which represents just under a 28% increase from current levels. The analyst adds that “even with lowered estimates,” valuation for the biotech stock still “looks attractive.”

For the third quarter, the biotech firm posted Nuplazid sales that garnered $5.3 million, soaring past the Street’s expectation of $2.7 million as well as the analyst’s estimate of $2 million. Yet, EPS of $(0.61) underperformed both consensus and the analyst’s projections on back of operating expenses (opex) that were loftier than anticipated. CEO Steve Davis observed no inventory affecting the total number of patients on commercial therapy, although no official numbers were released. Additionally, Davis indicated that large bulk orders have stayed the course. The firm brought in gross to net in the mid-20%.

Though Ahmad has cut the peak sales projection for Nuplazid, approved by the FDA to treat Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis (PDP), from $1.6 billion to $1.4 billion, “healthy acceleration” is modeled nonetheless. As far as the analyst can determine with relation to the pipeline drug’s advantage, “Our feedback from physicians pre- and post-launch indicate the key reason to use this drug is unlike anti-psychotics which are currently used off label, Nuplazid does not interact with the drugs used to control the motor symptoms associated with PD.”

With regards to expectations for pimavanserin, as ACAD is in the process of exploring this breakthrough treatment of Alzheimer’s disease psychosis (ADP), the analyst models “conservative pipeline expectations,” projecting $1.50 in total for the rest of the firm’s pipeline in Alzheimer’s.

“We raise our assumption to 25% (from 20%), raised opex ests., and assume a smaller EU market (based on mgmt comments of historic price discounts relative to US). These changes lowered our PO to $35 (from $39). Given meaningful upside from current valuation, and management’s comments that results from the upcoming Alz. Psychosis (ADP) trial may not need to be statistically significant to definitively warrant advancement (we model a 25% likelihood of approval) we raise our rating to Buy (from Neutral),” Ahmad surmises.

TipRanks analytics indicate ACAD as a Strong Buy. Based on 9 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 7 rate a Buy on ACAD, while 2 maintain a Hold. The 12-month price target stands at $40.57, marking a nearly 53% upside from where the shares last closed.screen-shot-11-08-16-at-09-36-pm

Rockwell Medical Inc

Rockwell are crashing close to 23% after the biopharma company reported third-quarter results yesterday that Ahmad criticized for continuing to “provide little visibility on when Triferic could launch,” the firm’s treatment designed to maintain iron balance in kidney dialysis patients. Initially first granted approval by the FDA back in January of 2015, RMTI has since “been met with several delays to launch.”

In light of no plan in sight for Triferic’s launch, Ahmad downgrades to an Underperform on RMTI while cutting the price target to $5. Additionally, in reaction to “another quarter with no Triferic sales,” the analyst has removed sales forecasts for 2016, previously calling for $9 million in the fourth quarter, as well as has pulled back on the ramp rate and peak penetration.

The analyst asserts, “We had expected management to be able to secure long-term contracts with large customers (e.g. dialysis providers). While we continue to believe in the attributes of Triferic (attractive in a cost sensitive market, patient safety benefits), we lower our estimates as we await the US launch.”

Moreover, “CEO Rob Chioini said Triferic still faces reimbursement barriers and discussions with Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) remain ongoing […] we note that communication with CMS has been ongoing for a good portion of 2016. Management did not provide a clear timeline for gaining add-on reimbursement,” Ahmad contends. However, if the Triferic poder packet is launched, RMTI could benefit from “meaningful” cost cuts.

Lastly, RMTI management noted its intent to continue to amass manufacturing data on Calcitriol, indicated for treating secondary hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients, and a drug that in May met stability obstacles. As of this past May, the corporate team had plans to launch the drug in the third quarter, and the company now has expectations for availability the end of November. Ahmad has lowered Calcitriol forecasts for 2016 and now expects a lesser ramp rate for sales.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate RMTI as a Sell. Out of 3 analysts polled by TipRanks, 1 is bullish on Rockwell stock and two are bearish. With a return potential for nearly 58%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $6.67.screen-shot-11-08-16-at-09-37-pm

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