With the market’s trajectory remaining unknown, hedge fund manager Steven Boyd believes that one industry in particular still houses exciting opportunities: the healthcare sector. Compared to the broader market, the healthcare space has held up stronger, with the names battling COVID-19 seeing some serious gains.
Before founding his hedge fund, Armistice Capital, in 2012, Boyd spent a significant portion of his career focusing on investments in consumer and healthcare equities. Taking that expertise with him, Boyd built Armistice into a global, long-short, value-oriented and event-driven hedge fund that boasts an impressive healthcare stock picking record. Based on the firm’s $1.7 billion worth of assets at the end of 2019, that track record speaks for itself.
Taking all of this into consideration, we wanted to find out if three stocks Boyd added to the fund recently represent compelling plays in the healthcare space. Pulling up TipRanks’ database, the platform revealed that the Buy-rated tickers are backed by Wall Street analysts and sport massive upside potential.
Catalyst Pharmaceuticals (CPRX)
We will start with Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, which develops therapies to improve the lives of patients with debilitating, chronic neuromuscular and neurological diseases. Thanks to its lead asset, Firdapse, the company has scored several fans.
Among its fan base is Boyd. His fund disclosed that it had acquired a new position in CPRX. Buying a whopping 5,378,000 shares, Armistice became a 5.2% owner of the company.
Out on the Street, CPRX has earned the support of members of the analyst community, including H.C. Wainwright’s Andrew Fein. After management reported that there had been a total of 532 cumulative Firdapse patient enrollments spanning from the January 2019 commercial launch through year-end 2019, the five-star analyst believes substantial progress has been made in Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS). Additionally, the company is continuing to focus on increasing new patient starts, maintaining new patients and combatting initial patient discontinuation.
“We believe the momentum of the ongoing Firdapse commercial expansion continues to be driven by directed focus and growth of sales and marketing efforts... In light of continued commercial progress in LEMS, management reiterated full-year 2020 Firdapse net revenue guidance of $135-155 million, which we note does not include global expansion efforts such as possible New Drug Submission (NDS) approval in Canada anticipated in 2H20, which we believe can provide yet further benefit to commercial efforts,” Fein commented.
As about 65% of diagnosed LEMS patients haven’t been prescribed Firdapse and there’s an estimated 1,500 undiagnosed patients, Fein thinks 2020 revenue could reach $146.8 million. Based on all of this, he reiterated a Buy rating and $9 price target. (To watch Fein’s track record, click here)
Like Fein, Oppenheimer’s Leland Gershell also takes a bullish approach. “Despite a WFH policy and travel ban, patient access to Firdapse remains uninterrupted, and the company has inventory through mid-2021. Also, top-line data from an SPA-sponsored pivotal trial in muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK), which we see as a key catalyst for the stock, remain on track to report this quarter,” the five-star analyst commented.
Even though the proof-of-concept data readout in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Type 3 was delayed, the program wasn’t included in Gershell’s model, so he still sees CPRX as an “attractive buy at current levels.” To this end, he left an Outperform call and $10 price target on the stock, indicating 102% upside potential. (To watch Gershell’s track record, click here)
Overall, 3 Buys assigned in the last three months versus no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy Street consensus. At $10, the average price target matches Gershell’s. (See Catalyst stock analysis on TipRanks)
Baudax Bio, Inc. (BXRX)
Specializing in the development of products for patients in acute care settings, Baudax Bio is committed to providing clinically meaningful therapeutic options. Shares are up 25% in the last month, and some market watchers believe that there’s still plenty of room for BXRX to keep on surging.
This appears to be the stance taken by Boyd. Armistice initiated a new position, pulling the trigger on 899,576 shares. Along with the purchase came a 4.99% stake in BXRX.
Weighing in on the healthcare name for Janney Montgomery, analyst Esther Hong has also been singing its praises. Her bullish thesis is in part driven by the company’s plans for its IV meloxicam (Anjeso) product’s U.S. launch. The therapy, which was approved back in February for the treatment of moderate-to-severe post-op pain, will be launched in June, with the company placing a significant focus on hiring and training a sales staff in preparation for the full commercial launch.
Hong tells investors that once COVID-19 restrictions are eased, she predicts a spike in elective surgeries. As a result, her call for de minimis U.S. Anjeso sales of $3.1 million for the first six months after launch remains unaltered.
Hong added, “Once the recommendation against non-emergency procedures is lifted, we believe Baudax will move full speed forward with its plans to target ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) that perform the following core target procedures: orthopedic (hip/knee, spine, other), general surgery and colorectal. This translates to approximately 550 ASC accounts that perform approximately 1 million of these procedures per year.” As BXRX has also identified 1,450 inpatient and outpatient hospitals that make up 80% of the targeted market, the deal is sealed for Hong.
As a result, Hong rates BXRX shares a Buy along with a $10 price target, which implies 190% upside potential. (To watch Hong’s track record, click here)
Other analysts are on the same page. Based on 100% Street support, BXRX earns a Strong Buy consensus rating. In addition, the $13.33 average price target is more aggressive than Hong’s and suggests 291% upside potential. (See Baudax stock analysis on TipRanks)
Pulmatrix, Inc. (PULM)
Utilizing its iSPERSE technology, Pulmatrix is developing innovative pulmonary-delivered treatments for both respiratory and non-respiratory disease. While shares have already climbed 60% higher in 2020, new strategic partnerships could signal that more growth is in store.
Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity, Armistice went in on PULM. The hedge fund added a new holding, disclosing the purchase of 1,320,180 shares on April 24. The implication? Boyd’s fund is now a 4.99% owner of the company.
Turning now to the analyst community, Fein (who also covers CPRX) acknowledges that its Pulmazole asset is limited by poor bioavailability, pharmacokinetic variability, drug interactions and possible GI and cardiac related side effects, but he still sees an opportunity.
“As Pulmazole development continues for the treatment of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) asthmatic patients, utilizing the company’s inhaled iSPERSE formulation of prescription anti-fungal drug, itraconazole, we continue to assert that an inhaled formulation of itraconazole could offer patients improved respiratory distribution with lower systemic exposure than the oral itraconazole alternative,” the H.C. Wainwright analyst commented.
On top of this, Fein argues that the iSPERSE program in general is stable, with it supported by an agreement with Cipla for the co-development and commercialization of Pulmazole, partnerships with the Lung Cancer Initiative of Johnson & Johnson and Nocion Therapeutics for inhaled drug delivery development with broader applicability. Highlighting the Johnson & Johnson collaboration specifically, the analyst noted, “We specifically maintain that the J&J agreement option for a portfolio of narrow spectrum kinase inhibitors (NSKI) in development for lung cancer, highlights the applicability of the iSPERSE approach to potentially facilitate efficacy, tolerability, and drug delivery for systemic treatment in other diseases.”
Sure, there’s a chance that COVID-19 could delay the progression of trials and impact patient enrollment, but Fein points out that currently, both Phase 2 data for Pulmazole in treating ABPA in asthma patients and Phase 1b data for PUR1800 are slated for release in the first half of 2021.
Bearing this in mind, Fein stayed with the bulls. Along with a Buy recommendation, he kept his $10 price target as is, putting the potential twelve-month gain at a whopping 625%.
Looking at the consensus breakdown, Fein is the only analyst that has thrown an opinion into the mix recently. As a result, the stock’s consensus rating is a Moderate Buy, with the average price target matching Fein’s. (See Pulmatrix stock analysis on TipRanks)
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