U.S. Markets closed

UBS Loses Conviction In Spark Therapeutics, Downgrades

Jayson Derrick

Spark Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: ONCE) released phase 1/2 SPK-8011 data in hemophilia A treatment over the weekend that fell short of what investors had hoped for.

The Analyst

UBS' Carter Gould downgraded Spark's stock rating from Buy to Neutral with a price target slashed from $92 to $51.

The Thesis

Spark's management attempted to address some of the concerns investors and the Street have with SPK-8011 data, but at the end of the day there is now a "lack of conviction" in the HemA program, Gould said in a Tuesday note. (See Gould's track record here.) 

"We get the sample size is small, but parsing out a dose response from the data reported is difficult and the non-conventional expression kinetics leave us perplexed," Gould said. "While the company will explore higher dosing and evaluate more patients, it strikes us as optimistic that this will be resolved with clarity in the next six to nine months. Further, intensifying noise on the competitive front in HemA (BioMarin, Pfizer/Sangamo, Shire) will likely only raise questions on differentiation over that time period."

Spark's disappointing data release also prompted Gould to make major revisions to the stock's financial model. The analyst is completely removing SPK-801 from the model along with the company's early-stage pipeline, which account for $29 per share and $12 per share, respectively.

SPK-801 has now become a "show me story" until the next data update, expected in the second or third quarter of next year, the analyst said.

It would likely take higher doses, additional patients and/or longer follow-up before the Street could get a "sense for where the program stands," he said. 

Price Action

Shares of Spark Therapeutics were trading lower by more than 6 percent Tuesday afternoon.

Related Links:

Analyst: Weakness In Spark Therapeutics Is Overdone

11 Biotech Stocks Moving From ASH 2017

Latest Ratings for ONCE

Date Firm Action From To
Dec 2017 Leerink Swann Downgrades Outperform Market Perform
Dec 2017 UBS Downgrades Buy Neutral
Oct 2017 Barclays Maintains Overweight

View More Analyst Ratings for ONCE
View the Latest Analyst Ratings

See more from Benzinga

© 2017 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.