ZIOPHARM Upgraded to Strong Buy


On Apr 3, Zacks Investment Research upgraded ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (ZIOP) to Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

ZIOPHARM’s loss estimates have declining on the back of better-than-expected fourth quarter 2013 results. ZIOPHARM’s fourth quarter 2013 loss per share of 7 cents was narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 14 cents and 85.4% below the year-ago loss.

This biotech company’s track record is pretty impressive with the company delivering positive surprises in the last couple of quarters with an average beat of 42.65%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for a loss in both 2014 and 2015 has gone down considerably over the last 30 days.

The company is working on strengthening its pipeline. ZIOPHARM is currently working on its lead therapeutic candidate Ad-RTS-IL-12 + veledimex, which is in two phase II studies − one for metastatic melanoma and the other for unresectable recurrent or metastatic breast cancer. Preliminary data from these studies are expected in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Meanwhile, ZIOPHARM is planning to initiate a phase I study on Ad-RTS-IL-12 for high-grade gliomas (brain cancer).

ZIOPHARM has an agreement with Intrexon Corp. (XON) under which it has rights to use Intrexon’s synthetic biology platform for cancer therapeutics. ZIOPHARM intends to submit several investigational new drug (IND) applications for some of its novel, multigenic gene therapies through 2015.

Other Stocks to Consider

Apart from ZIOPHARM, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN) and Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) too carry a Zacks Rank #1 and are worth considering. While Gilead has a potential blockbuster in its portfolio in the form of hepatitis C virus (:HCV) treatment, Sovaldi, Alexion’s Soliris continues to impress.

Read the Full Research Report on ZIOP
Read the Full Research Report on XON
Read the Full Research Report on ALXN
Read the Full Research Report on GILD

Zacks Investment Research

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