Stocks roared higher on Monday, but one legendary hedge fund manager isn’t breaking out the champagne just yet. Optimism that COVID-19's spread may be slowing powered the market’s impressive rally, with the Dow Jones closing the session up by over 1,600 points. That said, it may be too early to start toasting to the market’s recovery and the end of dramatic volatility.
Billionaire Steve Cohen is warning staff of his investment firm, Point72 Asset Management, to stay cautious as stocks rebound from the COVID-19-driven sell-off. “Markets don’t come back in a straight line; after an earthquake there are tremors... We need to continue to be disciplined. We are seeing plenty of opportunities to generate returns, but I don’t want us taking undue risks,” he wrote in an internal note.
The Point72 Chairman and CEO has earned a reputation as one of the most successful stock pickers, with his firm relying on a core hedge fund strategy that features stock market investments. Less frequently, Point72, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, will make plays based on macro trends, placing global wagers on several asset classes at the same time. With Cohen earning an estimated $1.3 billion in 2019 after the firm’s main hedge fund posted a 14.9% gain, it’s no wonder market watchers follow his moves religiously.
Taking all of this into consideration, we used TipRanks’ database to take a closer look at two stocks Cohen snapped up recently on the dip. The platform revealed that both Buy-rated tickers have earned the support of some members of the analyst community as well.
Calithera Bio (CALA)
Calithera Bio uses a onco-metabolism approach that brings a unique perspective to cancer, with it developing small molecule therapies that disrupt cellular metabolic pathways to block tumor growth. While shares have fallen 17% year-to-date to reach $4.74 apiece, this price tag could be an ideal entry point for those looking to get in on the action.
This is the stance taken by Steve Cohen. According to a March 13 disclosure, Point72 added a CALA holding to its portfolio, in the shape of 3,240,046 shares. As a result, Cohen’s firm now has a 5% stake in the healthcare company.
Weighing in on CALA for Jeffries, analyst Biren Amin sees an opportunity as well. He notes that a significant component of his bullish thesis is its CB-839 candidate. There is a substantial unmet need for successful outcomes in second- and third-line renal cell carcinoma (RCC) as checkpoint inhibitors are designated for first line use. As the candidate has already demonstrated efficacy in RCC, the top-line data readout in the second half of 2020 could serve as a key catalyst. Not to mention Amin estimates peak U.S. sales of $21 million for RCC alone.
Adding to the good news, CB-839 could potentially be used to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with KEAP1/NRF2 mutations. “With no currently approved therapies for this patient sub-group, CB-839 has the potential to be first-to-market in this 13,000 patient population (recall, KRAS G12c is ~14,000 NSCLC)…We estimate peak U.S. sales for CB-839 of $204 million (risk adj) for KEAP1/ NRF2 mutant NSCLC,” Amin commented.
With the analyst pointing out that its two arginase inhibitors in development, INCB001158 as part of a collaboration with Incyte and CB-280, stand to drive additional upside, it makes sense that Amin takes a bullish approach.
All in all, the five-star analyst puts a Buy rating on Calithera shares along with a $6 price target. Should the target be met, a twelve-month gain of 27% could be in store. (To watch Amin’s track record, click here)
Like the Jeffries analyst, the rest of the Street is bullish on CALA. 4 Buy ratings compared to no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. At $6.67, the average price target is more aggressive than Amin’s and implies upside potential of 41%. (See Calithera stock analysis on TipRanks)
Syros Pharmaceuticals (SYRS)
With the goal of taking control of gene expression, Syros develops small molecules to help improve the lives of patients. March definitely wasn’t its month, but some members of the Street believe its long-term growth prospects are strong.
Cohen falls into this category. Made public on April 2, Point72 pulled the trigger on this healthcare stock. Acquiring a new holding, its purchase of 2.3 million shares puts the firm’s total stake in SYRS at 5.1%.
Turning now to the analyst community, Roth Capital’s Zegbeh Jallah told investors that SYRS’s fourth quarter earnings results demonstrate the company’s potential. “We believe that Syros has made steady progress over 2019, and we look forward to the multiple data readouts expected during, particularly the readout of SY-1425 in r/r AML which should be a major catalyst. Cash and cash equivalents are expected to be sufficient to fund operations beyond major catalysts, and into 2022,” he explained.
During the quarter, the company released data for its lead candidate, SY-1425, a selective RARα agonist currently in a Phase 2 clinical study in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The therapy was not only able to show a 62% CR/CRi rate and an 82% rate of transfusion independence, but it also produced a fast onset of action, was tolerable as a combination with Azacitidine and validated the biomarker strategy for patient selection.
“The focus will likely be on response durability, which will probably be extrapolated to gauge the potential for durable responses in the r/r AML setting, for which Syros hopes to pursue an accelerated regulatory pathway,” Jallah added.
On top of this, proof-of-concept data from the Phase 2 study of SY-1425 and Aza in r/r AML, which is slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2020, could drive significant growth for the company. Jallah is also watching out for an update on initial PK/PD and safety data from the Phase 1 study of SY-5609, its first oral and noncovalent CDK7 inhibitor.
Bearing this in mind, Jallah has high hopes for SYRS. Along with a Buy rating, the analyst left a $17 price target on the stock, indicating 146% upside potential. (To watch Jallah’s track record, click here)
Looking at the consensus breakdown, opinions are split evenly down the middle. With 2 Buys and 2 Holds received in the last three months, the word on the Street is that SYRS is a Moderate Buy. Based on the $9.33 average price target, the upside potential comes in at 35%. (See Syros stock analysis on TipRanks)