The new week kicked off on a negative note, as all 3 major indexes pulled back from record highs. After applauding recent strong economic data, the worsening global coronavirus situation appeared to have soured investor sentiment.
But according to Goldman Sachs chief US equity strategist David Kostin, investors shouldn’t get too worked up. The overall trend remains upward, and Kostin points out that volatility – the difference between the high and low points in the market – is down. He sees the relative predictability of policy, now that the election is decided and behind us, as more definitive for near-term performance.
"Low volatility has outweighed low correlations among stocks, driving return dispersion back below the long-term average. As the U.S. moves beyond key macro events such as the 2020 election, the $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package, and peak economic activity, we expect three defining themes for markets will be tax reform, infrastructure, and pricing power," Kostin opined.
Taking Kostin’s outlook into consideration, Goldman Sachs analysts are pounding the table on two stocks, noting that each could double or more in the next year. Using TipRanks’ database, we found out that the rest of the Street is also on board, as each boasts a “Strong Buy” consensus rating.
DigitalOcean Holdings (DOCN)
We’ll start in high-tech, where DigitalOcean is a mid-size fish among the giants of the sea. The company offers cloud computing services for developers, small- to mid-size businesses, and startups. DigitalOcean can’t compete with the likes of Amazon or Microsoft on scale, so the company has promoted simplicity as a virtue. The move has brought a measure of success; DigitalOcean claims over 570,000 customers globally, and boasted, at the end of 2020, $357 million in annual recurring revenue along with 25% year-over-year revenue growth. The company operates 14 data centers, located in the US and Canada, in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, and in India and Singapore.
All of that adds up to a solid foundation, and DigitalOcean capitalized on it in the most direct way possible recently. The company entered the public markets, holding its IPO on March 24 of this year. The shares were priced at $47, and the company raised ~$775 million.
Analyst Christopher Merwin saw fit to initiate coverage of this stock for Goldman Sachs with a Buy rating and a $101 price target. At current levels, this target suggests a one-year upside of 143%. (To watch Merwin’s track record, click here)
"While we believe some investors are applying a discounted valuation to DigitalOcean due to lower gross margins, we think that approach is overly-punitive, as Digital Ocean has very efficient sales & marketing motion. In fact, sales & marketing spend was just 10% of revenue in 2020, largely due to a highly-efficient self-service go to market motion and developer community which helps to lower the cost of customer acquisition," Merwin opined.
The analyst summed up, "With a stronger growth and margin profile, we therefore believe that DigitalOcean should trade at a premium to the mid-growth peer set."
In its short time on the public markets, DOCN has picked up 10 reviews. These include 8 Buys and 2 Holds, making the analyst consensus rating a Strong Buy. The shares are priced at $41.50 with an average target of $58.20, making the upside potential 40% in the next 12 months. (See DOCN stock analysis on TipRanks)
Apellis Pharmaceuticals (APLS)
Shifting gears, we’ll look at Apellis, a biopharma company with a unique niche. Apellis focuses on C3 therapies, aiming to correct overactivation of the complement cascade, a part of the immune system. The complement cascade, or complement, clears away damaged cells, promotes inflammation, and attacks the cell membrane of pathogens. These activities are handled by a series of small proteins in sequence; Apellis targets C3, to control an overactive complement system. C3 is the central component of the cascade, and targeting it addresses three possible pathways for disease conditions.
Apellis’s approach has potential applications across a wide range of medical fields, including hematology, nephrology, neurology, and ophthalmology.
The company’s pipeline features one drug candidate, pegcetacoplan, with a wide range of applications. The drug acts directly on C3, and its targeted use was recently shown efficacious by positive Phase 3 data in a trial targeting the rare blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).
In addition to studying pegcetacoplan’s use for PNH, Apellis has five other clinical research projects ongoing for the drug candidate. The PNH study is the most advanced, however, and marketing applications for the drug – in the treatment of PNH – are under review by both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The PDUFA date for action by the FDA is May 14 of this year. The top line results from the Phase 3 PRINCE study, using the drug to treat PNH patients, are expected in 2Q21.
Among pegcetacoplan’s other applications, the geographic atrophy (GA) Phase 3 study is ongoing, with results expected in the third quarter of this year. Looking ahead, Apellis expects to bring three new drug candidate programs into clinical development by the end of next year.
In his coverage of this stock for Goldman Sachs, 5-star analyst Madhu Kumar sees the pegcetacoplan projects as the key here.
We view APLS as a story of two independent franchises based on the complement C3 cyclic peptide inhibitor pegcetacoplan. While systemic pegcetacoplan has already provided clinical POC in PNH in the Phase 3 PEGASUS trial, the results of which we believe should support the drug’s approval at the May 14, 2021 PDUFA date, the larger question this year is whether IVT pegcetacoplan will succeed in the potentially considerable market (we model peak risk-adjusted sales of $4.8B) of geographic atrophy (GA) in the Phase 3 DERBY/OAKS trials, for which top-line data are expected in 3Q21," the analyst said.
Kumar continued, "Overall, we believe Apellis provides an intriguing risk-reward profile heading into these 3Q21 data not because we are convinced in IVT pegcetacoplan’s success... but because we believe the potential upside with success is substantial while downside risk from failure is limited."
Kumar’s Buy rating comes with a $130 price target, implying a robust 185% one-year upside to the stock. (To watch Kumar’s track record, click here)
Overall, this stock gets a firm seal of approval from Wall Street, with a Strong Buy consensus rating based on 7 Buys vs. 1 Hold. Shares in APLS are trading for $45.64, and have a $73.67 average target that indicates room for 61% appreciation in the coming year. (See APLS stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.