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The healthcare sector took its place among the winners this year, rising 11%, compared to the S&P 500’s 9% drop. The bottom-line for investors? Wall Street’s focus is on the healthcare space, locking in on biotechs in particular.
However, before making hasty decisions, it should be noted that these stocks are notoriously risky, with their shares prone to explosive movements on account of only a few key catalysts like updates on clinical studies or regulatory approvals. The good news is that a favorable outcome can drive massive share price appreciation. However, the bad news is that the opposite holds true.
Understanding the volatile nature of the industry itself, we used TipRanks database to pinpoint exciting biotech plays that won’t break the bank. We found three trading for less than $3 per share that are not only Buy-rated, but also boast colossal long-term growth prospects, with upside potential of at least 200%.
vTv Therapeutics (VTVT)
Focused on addressing urgent and under-met medical needs, vTv Therapeutics develops and commercializes cutting-edge therapies that are orally administered. With a pipeline of assets targeting diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and inflammatory disorders, and with a $2.09 share price, some members of the Street are betting this biotech will emerge as a long-term winner.
Writing for Northland Capital, Carl Byrnes is even more optimistic ahead of an important update on the progress of its add-on to insulin therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D), TTP399. On June 12-16, the company will share posters at the 80th Scientific Sessions held virtually by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) that include additional results from its successful Phase 2 Simplici-T1 study of TTP399. Not to mention Phase 3 clinical trials evaluating the candidate are still set to begin by year end 2020, and management is discussing the design of a six-month registration trial of TTP399 as an adjunct to insulin therapy in patients with T1D with the FDA.
Looking at the Phase 2 Simplici-T1 study, which was a twelve-week trial evaluating an orally administered 800mg dose of TTP399 compared to a placebo in 85 patients with T1D on optimized insulin therapy, the asset was able to produce statistically significant results. It not only generated an improvement in HbA1c, but also a two-hour improvement in Time-In-Range. Additionally, patients saw an 11% total daily mealtime bolus insulin dose reduction, with no cases of severe hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis reported.
There are 1.2 million people in the U.S. suffering from T1D and insulin is the only available treatment option. This prompted Byrnes to comment, “TTP399 represents a MAJOR potential breakthrough for treating T1D, addressing a multi-billion dollar global opportunity.”
Along with his Outperform rating, Byrnes kept an $8 price target on VTVT stock. This means that shares could skyrocket 283% should the target be met.
Looking at the consensus breakdown, it has been relatively quiet when it comes to other analyst activity. Only one other review was published recently, but it was also bullish. In addition, the $7 average price target puts the upside potential at 238%.
Oncolytics Biotech (ONCY)
Moving on to Oncolytics Biotech, this company develops pelareorep, a safe and well-tolerated intravenously delivered immuno-oncolytic virus (IOV) that kills cancer through a mechanism of action with two features, selective tumor lysis and activation of the innate and adaptive immune systems. Currently going for $2.08 apiece, shares appear undervalued, according to one Wall Street pro.
Five-star analyst John Newman, of Canaccord Genuity, likes what he’s seeing so far. Part of his excitement is related to the upcoming interim biomarker data readout at the ESMO Breast Cancer conference this month for its AWARE-1 window of opportunity (WOO) study of pelareorep in early breast cancer patients. This biomarker data will include T-cell clonality, markers for T-regs, tumor inflammation, cytokines as well as other analyses.
Newman points out that the confirmation of T-cell clonality as a potential biomarker for patient response to pelareorep will be important for the company. He explained, “Data from this study will be used to design the registrational study of pelareorep in metastatic breast cancer and confirm the broader utility of the T-cell clonality biomarker across tumor types, which could suggest a tumor-agnostic phenotype.” The analyst added, “If ONCY can show increased activity detectable by a blood draw in combination with Tecentriq, Roche may choose to run a Phase 3 study in breast cancer, which we believe should substantially increase share value.”
It should also be noted that barring delays caused by COVID-19, the Phase 2 BRACELET-1 study, which is part of its partnership Pfizer and Merck, is slated to kick off. The goal of this study is to verify that new and expanded T-cell clones are being generated through TCR sequencing. Focus will also be on improved ORR and OS clinical benefits for second line HER+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer (mBC) patients. “If positive initial results are seen in this study, we believe it could potentially become the first part of a Phase 3 registrational study,” Newman said.
If that wasn’t enough, pelareorep could potentially be used in other indications. The company is hoping to publish interim data from its Phase 2 second-line study of the therapy in pancreatic cancer at ASCO in Q2 2020, with final data expected in Q4 2020. In addition, Newman noted, “Data from the NCI-9603 multiple myeloma (MM) study is expected at ASCO in 2Q20 and the Opdivo combination MM study at ASH in 4Q2020. We note the opportunity to show efficacy across multiple tumor types using a tumor-agnostic biomarker would be a substantial benefit to ONCY and a significant catalyst to shares, in our view.”
Based on all of the above, Newman left his Buy rating unchanged. Even though he reduced the price target from $8 to $7, this still leaves room for 231% upside potential.
All in all, other analysts agree with Newman. With 100% Street support, or 3 Buy ratings received in the last three months, the message is clear: ONCY is a Strong Buy. Given the $7.97 average price target, shares could soar 283% in the next twelve months.
Novus Therapeutics (NVUS)
Hoping to make meaningful differences in patients’ lives, Novus’ primary focus is on designing products for disorders of the ear, nose and throat (ENT). The share price, which at 64 cents is the lowest on our list, could present investors with the chance to get in on the action, in the analyst community’s opinion.
Novus has not one, not two, but four clinical trials evaluating OP0201, its lead product candidate developed for use in otitis media (OM), a middle ear inflammation caused by Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). Out of these trials, three have already been completed, and the data from each was positive. On top of this, the patient enrollment for its Phase 2a study in children with acute otitis media, study C-006, was completed in the first quarter of 2020, with the data slated for release this June.
Digging a bit deeper into the candidate itself, OP0201 is a daily nasal spray that could potentially improve the Eustachian tube’s ability to drain and ventilate the middle ear. Given that the condition afflicts more than 700 million people every year and is one of the most common reasons children are prescribed antibiotics and undergo surgery in the U.S., it’s no wonder NVUS is on Wall Street’s radar.
Ascendiant analyst Edward Woo points out that as there aren’t any available treatments to prevent OM, the door is open for NVUS to capitalize on the significant opportunity. “Additional positive trial data should be key catalysts for the stock. Though we acknowledge that Novus’s drugs still have long development roads left (~3 years for OP0201), we believe the over billion market potentials presents a high reward for the risks,” he explained.
Adding to the good news, Woo believes that with $9 million in cash as of Q4 and its recent $6 million fund raise from exercise of warrants, the company should have enough cash through 2020.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Woo’s bullish thesis is very much intact. In addition to his Buy rating, the analyst set a $3.25 price target. There’s plenty of upside potential here, 408% to be exact.
What does the rest of the Street think about this biotech’s long-term growth prospects? It turns out that other analysts also have high hopes for NVUS. 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. Not to mention the $2.58 average price target implies 303% upside potential.
Bonus Pick: The Best 5G Stock You’ve Never Heard Of
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I’ve compiled all of my research on this firm, data, statistics, the ticker symbol, and even my target buy and sell prices.