One week ago, Stifel analyst Derek Archila reiterated his "buy" rating on anti-cholesterol drugmaker Amarin (AMRN). He did this partly because he liked how Amarin's Q2 earnings report showed sales soaring, and losses lessening -- but also because he thought it unlikely the Food and Drug Administration would empanel an Advisory Committee to review Amarin's supplemental New Drug Application for expanded usage of "Vascepa," thus speeding the "sNDA" towards approval.
Last Thursday, Amarin announced that the FDA will be holding an AdCom after all, "tentatively scheduled for November 14, 2019, to review the data from Amarin's "REDUCE-IT cardiovascular outcomes study" and recommend whether the FDA should approve the expanded usage of Vascepa to treat "borderline" to "high" levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream. (I.e. levels from ranging from 151 mg/dL to 499 mg/dL).
Because of the late date of the AdCom, Amarin warned that it now "does not expect the FDA to take action on the sNDA by the previously announced September 28, 2019" deadline. Instead, it expects the deadline for approval under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act to be pushed back to "late December" -- postponing by three months the date at which Amarin might expect to begin booking new revenues under the expanded usage.
Because of that, Amarin stock plunged more nearly 17% in Friday trading, another 6% today, and at least one law firm filed a shareholders' class action lawsuit against Amarin, implying the company did something shady when it advised investors last week that "it was unlikely that the FDA would proceed with an advisory panel review."
Therein, says Archila, lies an opportunity.
Although frustrated by the FDA's decision, so at odds with his own guess, Archila urged investors to take advantage of Amarin's newly discounted stock price and buy some Amarin stock. The analyst reiterates a Buy rating on AMRN with a $26 price target, which implies nearly 90% upside from current levels. (To watch Archila's track record, click here)
His reasoning: "It's difficult to say why the FDA has chosen to convene an adcom this late in the game." Regardless, "our research and checks ... underlie our confidence that Vascepa's dataset will stand up to the scrutiny of a panel." But even more than that:
Under one possible scenario, Archila mused, it's possible the FDA might offer Amarin the option of labeling Vascepa for use "for cardiovascular risk reduction regardless of triglyceride levels" -- in other words, permitting the drug to be used by patients no matter how low, or how high, their triglycerides might be. No restrictions at all!
Such a labeling (if it's in fact on the table) would obviously be good news for Amarin. As Archila explains, it "would increase the commercial opportunity for the drug," meaning more sales and more profits for Amarin.
So as a pure question of risk and reward, Archila now believes the odds favor investing in Amarin.
All in all, AMRN has one of the best ratings by the Street. TipRanks reveals that the stock has a Strong Buy analyst consensus rating with 6 back-to-back buy ratings in the last three months. Meanwhile the average analyst price target of $32.67 suggests the stock has upside potential of nearly 135% from the current share price for the next 12 months. (See AMRN's price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)