Market Overview

ViroPharma and Other Biotech Stocks Recommended by Oppenheimer (VPHM)

ViroPharma and Other Biotech Stocks Recommended by Oppenheimer VPHM

Oppenheimer has a new team of analysts focused on biotechnology and specialty pharmaceuticals.

And, research from the new team includes recommendations to buy shares of Antares Pharma (NASDAQ: ATRS), Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ICPT), Questcor Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: QCOR) and ViroPharma (NASDAQ: VPHM).

Below we take a glance at how these four stocks have fared and what analysts expect from them.

In addition, the Oppenheimer analysts also resumed or initiated coverage on Endo Health Solutions (NASDAQ: ENDP), Medicines Company (NASDAQ: MDCO) and Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) with Perform ratings.

Antares Pharma

This New Jersey-based specialty pharmaceutical company is has been a speculated buyout target, with Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) as the likely acquirer. The maker of topical gel-based medicines sports a market capitalization near $520 million. It does not offer a dividend.

Antares Pharma has been reporting small net losses per share in the past few quarters. Note that the operating margin and the return on equity are both in negative territory. Also, short interest was more than 10 percent of the float at the most recent settlement date.

The consensus recommendation of analysts surveyed by Thomson/First Call who follow this stock has been to buy shares for the past three months. The mean price target, or where the analysts expect the share price to go, is about 29 percent higher than the current share price. The Oppenheimer price target indicates more than 31 percent upside potential.

Shares of Antares Pharma are less than five percent higher year-to-date, and they have traded mostly between $4.00 and $4.20 for the past few weeks. Over the past six months, the stock has underperformed the broader markets and the likes of Becton, Dickinson and Company (NYSE: BDX).

Intercept Pharmaceuticals

This development stage biopharmaceutical company focusing on treatment of chronic liver diseases just raised more than $61 million in a secondary offering. It is headquartered in New York City and has a market cap is near $650 million. The company does not offer a dividend.

Here too the operating margin and the return on equity are both in the red. It has reported larger-than-expected net losses per share in recent quarters. Short interest in Intercept Pharmaceuticals was more less two percent of the float at the end of May.

All five of the analysts surveyed recommend buying shares, three of them rating the stock at Strong Buy. The mean price target implies more than 23 percent potential upside relative to the current share price. The Oppenheimer target is more than 35 percent higher than the share price.

The share price jumped more than 18 percent in the past week, after hitting a year-to-date low in the previous week. Over the past six months, this stock outperformed larger competitor AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), as well as the broader markets.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals

This provider of drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, nephrotic syndrome and infantile spasms indications was once named America's top small company by Forbes. The Anaheim, California-based biopharmaceutical company has a market cap of more than $2 billion. Its dividend yield is about 2.3 percent.

The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is lower than the industry average and the long-term earnings per share (EPS) growth forecast is about 26 percent. The return on equity is more than 130 percent. However, the number of shares sold short represents about 38 percent of the float.

Seven of the 10 analysts polled recommend buying shares, and they have for at least three months. The analysts believe shares have room to run, as their price target is about 15 percent higher than the current share price. The Oppenheimer target signals more than 22 percent upside potential.

The share price is up about 69 percent year-to-date, including a more than 28 percent rise so far this month. The stock has outperformed larger competitors Novartis (NYSE: NVS) and Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) over the past six months.

ViroPharma

This biotechnology company is another rumored takeover target, with several possible suitors. The maker of Cinryze and Vancocin is headquartered in Exton, Pennsylvania, and it has a less than $2 billion market cap. But it does not offer a dividend either.

The company has a long-term EPS growth forecast of about eight percent. Its operating margin and return on equity are both in the red. It posted surprise per-share net losses in recent quarters. The number of shares sold short was less than 12 percent of the company's float.

However, for the past three months the consensus recommendation has been to buy ViroPharma shares. The analysts' mean price target is more than 14 percent higher than the current share price. The Oppenheimer price objective suggests there is about 18 percent potential upside.

The share price is more than 20 percent higher than at the beginning of the year. Over the past six months, the stock has outperformed Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR), but it has narrowly underperformed Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CBST).

Posted-In: Antares Pharma AstraZeneca cubist pharmaceuticals Endo Health Solutions Intercept PharmaceuticalsLong Ideas Short Ideas Trading Ideas Best of Benzinga

 

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