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These 3 “Strong Buy” Healthcare Stocks Have 40% Upside — Or More, Says Cowen

The world’s population is getting older, rapidly. According to the United Nations, the fastest-growing age group across the world is adults aged 65 and older, with it predicting one out of every six people will be 65 or older by 2050. This means that the age group will make up 16% of the world’s total population, 9% higher than it was in 2011, with this figure expected to be larger in North Africa and Europe.

To this end, investors are looking for ways to capitalize on the growing opportunity within the healthcare space. In order to pinpoint the most compelling opportunities capable of delivering handsome returns through 2020 and beyond, we turned to the seasoned pros from investing firm Cowen & Co.

Using TipRanks.com, we were able to get the full scoop on 3 healthcare stocks that the firm’s top rated analysts are picking. If it wasn’t enough that each has received enough Street Support over the last three months to achieve a “Strong Buy” consensus rating, all of the names boast impressive upside potential. We’re talking more than 45% here.

BioMarin Pharmaceutical (BMRN)          

BioMarin is best known for developing innovative therapies to meet the needs of patients with orphan disease, a group of diseases that affects less than 200,000 people in the U.S. The group includes cystic fibrosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, Tourette's syndrome as well as several others.

Even though shares have experienced some rockiness year-to-date, 5-star Cowen analyst Phil Nadeau reminds investors that BMRN has demonstrated portfolio-wide progress. Its Naglazyme drug remains the only treatment option for the 1,000 people with MPS-VI, an inherited life-threatening disease caused by a deficiency of the enzyme normally required for the breakdown of certain complex carbohydrates known as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). According to the analyst’s forecasts, the drug could generate revenue of $470 million in 2024, up from $346 million in 2018.

The biotech isn’t stopping there. During BMRN’s recent investor R&D day, the company announced that data from its extended Phase 2 trial of Vosoritide, its drug designed to treat Achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, suggested positive results in terms of efficacy. As management pointed out that the results can most likely be replicated, it’s no wonder Nadeau is excited. “We are optimistic for success in the Phase 3 study and we think that should the Phase 2 profile be replicated, this would drive wide and rapid adoption,” he commented.

With substantial steps forward for its hemophilia A treatment and its gene therapies for PKU and HAE, Nadeau concludes that BMRN is a Buy. Not to mention the analyst’s $150 price target indicates that shares could double in the next twelve months. (To watch Nadeau’s track record, click here)

In general, the rest of the Street also likes what it’s seeing. 11 Buy ratings and 3 Holds assigned in the last three months amount to a ‘Strong Buy’ ranking. Additionally, the $109 average price target brings the upside potential to 40%. (See BioMarin stock analysis on TipRanks)

SAGE Therapeutics (SAGE)

SAGE wants to offer better treatment options for patients with neuropsychiatric disorders such as postpartum depression (PPD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). While results from its most recent quarter failed to impress, Cowen thinks that there’s plenty of room for growth here.

Analyst Ritu Baral notes that during the third quarter, its Zulresso drug, which launched in Q2 with small revenues, demonstrated lackluster sales growth. The analyst believes that as sales are likely to maintain slow growth until the second half of 2020, investors should instead focus on the upcoming SAGE-217 Phase 3 readout for MDD in the fourth quarter.

The results from its Phase 2 study were resoundingly positive, as they demonstrated significant levels of efficacy. This lends itself to Baral’s argument that SAGE-217 “provides significant blockbuster market potential”. “Topline data from the Ph3 MOUNTAIN trial evaluating SAGE-217 in MDD is expected to be a major catalyst for SAGE shares. Therefore, in our view, this could lead to about 30-40% upside for shares,” the Cowen analyst explained.

Baral adds, “We believe SAGE has a strong CNS pipeline with several potentially value-creating shots on goal over the next few years.” Bearing this in mind, the five-star analyst reiterated the bullish call and $207 price target. This target conveys her confidence in SAGE’s ability to surge about 40% over the next twelve months. (To watch Baral’s track record, click here)

Similarly, Wall Street takes a bullish approach when it comes to SAGE. With 7 Buys and 1 Hold, the consensus among analysts is that the biotech name is a ‘Strong Buy.’ Its $204 average price target implies 35% upside potential from today's closing price. (See SAGE stock analysis on TipRanks)

NGM Biopharmaceuticals (NGM)

Using its unique “in vivo” discovery approach to characterize relevant biological processes, NGM has been able to create novel compounds to fight diseases like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is an inflammatory liver disease that can cause too much fat to accumulate in the liver.

While the company posted a $10.9 million net loss in Q3, the outcome of its Phase 2a Cohort 4 study for lead candidate Aldafermin could drive a turnaround. Top-line data for the PBO-controlled biopsy to evaluate its ability to treat NASH are expected to be released in the first quarter of 2020.

Ritu Baral, who also covers NGM, highlights the fact that “the compound has previously shown robust decreases in MRI-PDFF and demonstrated regression of fibrosis (the thickening and scarring of connective tissue) by 1 stage in 25% and 42% of patients treated with aldafermin 1mg and 3mg respectively at 12-weeks.”

It also doesn’t hurt that the company’s pipeline includes candidates for oncology and ophthalmic conditions that are in earlier development, as well as its NGM313 humanized antibody in development for NASH and type 2 diabetes.

All of this contributed to Baral’s decision to maintain her bullish thesis. “We believe NGM Bio’s precision biology pipeline has significant promise in multiple diseases with high unmet need,” she noted. Along with the Buy recommendation, the $25 price target puts the potential twelve-month gain at a whopping 70%.

The rest of the Street appears to mirror Baral’s sentiment. With 4 Buys received in the last three months compared to no Holds or Sells, the message is clear: NGM is a ‘Strong Buy’. On top of this, shares could soar 61% in the next twelve months based on the $23.67 average price target. (See NGM stock analysis on TipRanks)