Getting everyone on board isn’t always easy. Whether out at a restaurant ordering a shared platter with friends, or choosing a song from a playlist, it can be challenging to reach an agreement with those around you, and mostly impossible to please everyone at the same time.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and even the analysts on Wall Street all reach the same conclusion at times. Common disagreements on whether a stock is over-sold or over-bought, are periodically put aside as a consensus is reached about one’s potential.
The odds are even harder to beat when considering the future potential of stocks from the same sector, so when everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, it’s time to take notice.
With this in mind, we used TipRanks’ Analysts' Top Stocks tool to home in on 3 stocks in the same sector (healthcare in our case) which have received nothing but bullish shout outs in the last three months, and which, additionally, all have a Strong Buy consensus rating. Let’s get the lowdown.
NextCure Inc (NXTC)
This biotech, which develops new cancer drugs, has been turning heads on the Street recently.
As is common in the sector, NextCure’s share price skyrocketed at the start of November following the release of promising data from early clinical trial results for its cancer treatment, NC318, an antibody targeting Siglec-15 (an immuno-suppressive protein of the tumor micro-environment). The news caused the share price to soar almost 250% in a single day. Roughly a week later, the stock crashed by over 50% in a session, following updated data which wasn’t quite as promising.
These shenanigans are common in the volatile world of biotechs, and not much is to be deduced from the wild price swings following such early results. As it happens, in this case, NextCure’s pedigree is very strong.
The company’s founder is Dr. Lieping Chen, Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University, and discoverer of the PD-L1/PD1 pathway, which showed that blocking the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 by monoclonal antibodies had a positive effect on the immune system’s ability to eliminate tumors.
NextCure has other cancer treatment medicines in the pipeline, and BTIG’s Robert Hazlett sets out the bullish case for the recently listed biotech.
The 5-star analyst noted, “NC318 has material promise as it modifies the activity of S15, a potent immunosuppressive protein, in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Normally S15 is expressed at very low levels, but in the TME, it is materially overexpressed, creating the potential for a meaninful immuno-oncology target, as it is present in 15-25% in NSCLC, TNBC, ovarian and head & neck cancers, providing NC318 with multi-billion dollar potential. NextCure is also employing its FIND-IO discovery platform toward developing other IO therapies.”
Therefore, Hazlett initiated coverage on NextCure with a Buy rating, and set a price target of $61. As share prices surged at the end of last week, the upside potential comes in at a modest 4%. (To watch Hazlett’s track record, click here)
Three other analysts tracked over the last 3 months all rate NextCure as a Buy, which collectively adds up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. The fellow analysts are even more bullish than Hazlett, as the average price target of $68.75 implies potential upside of 17%. (See NextCure stock analysis on TipRanks)
Axsome Therapeutics Inc (AXSM)
On to the Street’s next promising healthcare choice, and we encounter a recurring theme. Axsome therapeutics is up by over 115% in the last week, following -you guessed it- positive trial data.
The CNS (central nervous system) focused biotech, released results for its experimental anti-depression drug, AXS-05, showing the treatment met the primary endpoint in a Phase 3 clinical trial. Axsome plans to submit an application to the FDA for approval of the therapy in the second half of 2020.
The positive results back up a previous phase 2 trial in which AXS-05 exhibited superior efficacy compared to Bupropion for both MDD (major depressive disorder) and smoking cessation.
BTIG’s Robert Hazlett also covers Axsome and reminds investors of the company’s potential. “Taken together, these data show consistent, rapid, durable, and significant anti-depressant effects of AXS-05 and de-risk AXS-05 in MDD; with additional strong results, we also modestly reduce our discount for AXS-05 in treatment resistant depression (TRD) as well… Given AXS-05’s relatively clear path to approval, consistent efficacy profile, and oral delivery, we now formally include M&A exit optionality into our valuation… We believe there is evidence that AXS-05’s broad activity at multiple CNS receptors (NMDA, Sigma-1, others) has the potential to support its use in multiple large CNS indications with peak sales potential of several billion dollars,” he said.
Therefore, Hazlett reiterated his Buy recommendation on Axsome, alongside a price target of $97.
A full house of 9 Buys bestows on Axsome Strong Buy status. As the average price target stands at $123.50, there is further room for growth in the shape of 23%. (See Axsome stock analysis on TipRanks)
iRhythm Technologies (IRTC)
Digital healthcare company, iRhythm Technologies, has had a poor 2019, with its share price losing 12% year-to-date. Looking at the bigger picture, though, the cardiac device specialist still has a lot going for it.
The company’s flagship product, Zio, is a wearable patch that detects cardiac symptoms and has gained quick adoption due to ease of use and accurate data readings.
iRhythm’s marketing strategy of getting a foot in the door at doctors’ offices to set up new accounts, has seen use of the Zio XT patch in diagnostic situations rise from 10% of accounts at the end of 2016 to 70% by 2018’s close. A further addition of sales representatives indicates the company will see out 2019 with as many as 140 sales reps, compared to 110 at the end of 2018, and significantly more than 2017’s 86.
RBC’s Brandon Henry is with the bulls on iRhythm. The 4-star analyst noted, “We believe IRTC’s core business will continue to perform well, led by new sales rep adds, increased sales rep productivity, the full commercial launch of Zio AT (which should drive additional XT sales), and continued penetration in large integrated hospitals.”
To this end, Henry reiterated an Outperform rating on the medical instrument maker, alongside a price target of $109. Should the target be met, gains of almost 79% could be in line over the next 12 months. (To watch Henry’s track record, click here)
Where does the Street stand on iRhythm? The Street agrees with Henry. The cardiac device developer has a Strong Buy consensus rating, based on 3 Buy recommendations. The average target price adds 50 cents to the RBC analyst’s target and comes in at $109.50, implying handsome upside potential of 80%. (See iRhythm's price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)