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The markets were back to the bad old 2022 ways on Monday, with all the main indexes once again pushing deep into the red. However, that mattered little to Pliant Therapeutics (PLRX) investors.
The shares blasted 159% higher in the session after the small-cap biotech released positive results from a mid-stage clinical trial of its lung disease candidate.
Specifically, the company said that its experimental drug offering, PLN-74809, indicated to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) met both its primary and secondary endpoints in a phase 2a study. The drug’s pharmacokinetic profile also appeared to be favorable.
The primary endpoint was safety/tolerability, and PLN-74809 showed to be well-tolerated with no deaths or drug-related significant adverse events or discontinuations due to adverse incidents. For the top secondary endpoint, plasma concentrations showed dose-proportional increases.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has proven to be a difficult condition to treat. Nevertheless, despite this overall lack of success so far, according to Allied Market Research, experts predict that by 2027 this indication could result in pharmaceutical sales of up to $6 billion. So, a real opportunity for Pliant to tap into this market. However, there is a long road ahead still, and the mid-stage results will need confirmation in a bigger, pivotal-stage trial.
Assessing the data, BTIG analyst Thomas Shrader calls the topline readout “very positive” and thinks that should future development go well, Pliant’s offering could be something of a game changer.
“Pliant’s highly enabling ability to safely, potently, and conveniently modulate the most established pathway implicated in fibrosis could be truly paradigm shifting in a field that once believed ‘once you have fibrosis, you always have fibrosis,’” the analyst opined.
Yet, following Monday’s unseemly gains, is it now to late to load up on shares? Not according to Shrader. The analyst reiterated a Buy rating on Pliant, along with a $51 price target, suggesting shares still have room for one-year growth of 173%. (To watch Shrader’s track record, click here)
RBC’s Brian Abrahams is just as effusive.
“We believe the stronger than expected overall dataset provides a major de-risking step for potentially achieving a future $1.5B+ mkt opportunity and transforms the story,” the analyst said.
Like, Shrader, Abrahams sees plenty of upside. In fact, recommending to “buy into strength,” along with the Outperform (i.e., Buy) rating, Abrahams raised the price target from $35 to $54, now indicating upside potential of ~189%. (To watch Abrahams’ track record, click here)
Looking at the consensus breakdown, other analysts are on the same page. With 7 Buys and no Holds or Sells, the word on the Street is that PLRX is a Strong Buy. The $43.71 average price target puts the upside potential at ~135%. (See PLRX stock forecast on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.