Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRPT) started 2019 with very high volatility. After spiking to around $125 a share on Jan. 7, SRPT stock gave up those gains when markets took in the developments in its DMD pipelines and its Exondys 51 fourth-quarter sales outlook. Although shares rebounded from December 2018 lows, should biotech stock investors seriously consider investing in this company?
At the J.P. Morgan conference, Sarepta said it will run 45 biopsies this quarter for SRP-4045. This is an investigational compound that treats DMD or Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients with mutations in the DMD gene. The drug works by directing cells, through Sarepta’s PMO, to skip exon 45 when processing RNA. The dystrophin protein is shortened but is still synthesized, slowing the negative symptoms of DMD.
If the biopsies are positive, Sarepta will file a marketing application, setting up a possible approval date of early 2020.
SRPT’s Sales Outlook
SRPT stock volatility rose after the company issued its revenue outlook for Exondys 51. In the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018, it made $84.4 million in revenue from sales of Exondys 51. For 2018, revenue was around $301 million. It ended that same period with a healthy balance of $1.1 billion in cash.
Markets reacted negatively to the outlook because it expected quarterly revenue of $85.8 million. The barely $2 million difference is a rounding error and the market quickly realized it. Quarterly revenue is in line with forecasts. As markets rebounded, taking the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBB) up 11.5% on the week, SRPT stock also rose the same amount (11%).
Sarepta’s global growth plans should lower the risks of relying solely in one market:
“We continue to build our international presence with limited infrastructure but dedicated colleagues in Latin America and Europe and a managed access program or MAP now live in some 44 countries. We should continue to see modest contribution from our MAP throughout 2018 with increasing contribution in 2019 and beyond.”
Source: SA Transcript
Impressive Talent at Sarepta
Sarepta highlighted the 25 programs in RNA and gene therapy underway. Its staff talent consists of over 500 professionals. This leading gene therapy team could deliver on bringing 3 RNA-therapies by 2020. It may potentially treat 30% of the DMD market. Historically, the team is showing that it is delivering. FY 2018 revenue nearly doubled to $301 million, up from the 2017 revenue of $154.6 million.
Sarepta is a top five rare disease company by market cap. Only Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN), BioMarin Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:BMRN) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX) are bigger. SRPT stock is underperforming compared to its peers. While the other firms’ stock price traded closer to its 52-week highs after the market rally in the last few days, Sarepta is still around 33% below its yearly high.
Wall Street coverage gained steam in the last few days. The company received over five “buy” calls, with a price target ranging from $161 to as high as $267.
Analyst Firm Position Price Target Date Debjit Chattopadhyay H.C. Wainwright Buy $267.00 yesterday Salveen Richter Goldman Sachs Buy $191.00 2 days ago Matthew Harrison Morgan Stanley Buy $161.00 2 days ago Brian Skorney Robert W. Baird Buy $202.00 2 days ago Alethia Young Cantor Fitzgerald Buy $217.00 2 days ago Yun Zhong Janney Montgomery Buy $200.00 2 days ago Brian Abrahams RBC Capital Buy — 3 days ago Martin Auster Credit Suisse Buy $189.00 3 days ago Tim Chiang BTIG Buy $190.00 13 days ago
Like with all biotech companies in the discovery phase, SRPT is volatile and risky. Any FDA approval delays could disappoint markets, sending the stock lower. Clinical study costs could rise, but in Sarepta’s case, the company has plenty of cash on hand. It is unlikely to need a cash raise through a share sale.
Bottom Line on SRPT Stock
Sarepta Therapeutics stock benefited from the latest rebound in biotechnology stocks, but could move even higher in the longer term. It has a goal of commencing its confirmatory trial with commercial material this year. Given the strong team, doctors and scientists involved, chances are good that the trial, which has 24 patients, goes well and will bring positive results.
As of this writing, Chris Lau did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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