While most of the major sectors showed modest moves amid a choppy trading day on Wall Street, significant strength is visible among biotechnology stocks. Among the equities in focus are controversial drug giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) and ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ACAD). Here’s a quick roundup of today’s brokerage notes on VRX and ACAD.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc
Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals are up nearly 7.5% today after the company announced that the board of directors has begun a search for a replacement for CEO J. Michael Pearson, who will continue to serve as CEO until a replacement is found.
In reaction, Canaccord analyst Neil Maruoka reiterated a Hold rating on shares of Valeant, with a price target of $40, which implies an upside of 38% from current levels.
Maruoka commented, “Although Valeant’s press release provides increased visibility over a number of issues currently plaguing the company, we find some of the information contained within quite troubling. The most dynamic change is the pending departure of CEO Mike Pearson. The company has initiated a search for a replacement for Mr. Pearson, who will stay on until a new CEO is named. However, perhaps more worrying was Valeant’s update on the reasons behind its delayed 2015 10-K, which appears to relate to more than just $58 million of revenue reclassifications. The Committee highlighted additional concerns over other potential accounting issues, material internal control weakness, and a poor “tone of the organization”.”
“We believe the positive reaction to the stock may be in response to the additional visibility (for better or worse); however, we are still cautious ahead of the final conclusions of the Ad Hoc Committee and the filing of audited 2015 financial results,” the analyst concluded.
According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Neil Maruoka has a total average return of -35.9% and a 13% success rate. Maruoka has a -38.9% average return when recommending VRX, and is ranked #3749 out of 3820 analysts.
Out of the 21 analysts polled by TipRanks (in the past 3 months), 7 rate Valeant Pharmaceuticals stock a Buy, 10 rate the stock a Hold and 4 recommend to Sell. With a return potential of 92%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $55.73.
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.
ACADIA shares rose nearly 9% today in anticipation of the March 29 NUPLAZID advisory committee, where a panel of doctors will review ACADIA’s clinical data in Parkinson’s disease psychosis.
Ahead of next week’s event, JMP Securities analyst Jason Butler reiterated an Outperform rating on shares of ACADIA, with a price target of $43, which implies an upside of 100% from current levels.
Butler wrote, “We expect briefing documents for the March 29 NUPLAZID AdComm to be released this Friday morning, and in preparation, we review what we believe could be a focus point for the FDA: the potential for the drug to cause small increases in QTc interval. ACADIA has disclosed that NUPLAZID causes a mean QTc interval prolongation of ~7-9ms, and we view it as likely that the FDA will review detailed data from the clinical program, including outlier data, in its briefing document.”
“Based on the data available for NUPLAZID, we do not expect this issue to impede a positive AdComm recommendation for approval and expect any debate to focus on appropriate labeling. Our $43 price target includes sales of NUPLAZID in PDP and additional indications as well as the company’s earlier-stage pipeline,” the analyst concluded.
According to TipRanks.com, analyst Jason Butler has a total average return of 36% and a 48% success rate. Butler has a 117.5% average return when recommending ACAD, and is ranked #149 out of 3820 analysts.
As of this writing, all the 5 analysts polled by TipRanks (in the past 3 months) are bullish on ACADIA stock. With a return potential of 155.5%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $55.