The stock markets can sometimes be a study in paradoxes. Good and bad news will exist simultaneously, tugging in various directions, and short-term trends can shift in a single trading session.
Start with two data points noted by Oppenheimer’s chief investment strategist John Stoltzfus. He draws attention to the Q1 earnings – reporting season is winding down – particularly to the strong results. After 91% of the S&P 500-listed companies had reported, quarterly revenues had grown 9.8% year-over-year and earnings were up 47%.
On the negative side, Stoltzfus contrasted the solid earnings with the poor April jobs report. The new jobs total reached a mere 266,000; far short of the nearly 1 million expected, and the February/March numbers were revised downwards.
Stoltzfus sees resilience in the markets, however, as stocks continue to hover near record levels.
“So far in 2021 the US economy and stocks have shown remarkable resilience considering the challenges and uncertainties they face in the process of moving towards the ‘next new normal.’ It’s no secret that a whole lot of love in the form of accommodative monetary policy from the Fed and gargantuan levels of stimulus from Capitol Hill have played a significant role to effect the process of navigating a landscape fraught with the uncertainties that come with any recovery from a major crisis,” Stoltzfus wrote.
The upshot: Oppenheimer comes down in favor of stock investing in today’s overall market environment, with an emphasis on US equities. The investment firm has been consistent in this stance for some time now, and its stock analysts have been making their recommendations accordingly.
Two of those recent stock recommendations caught our eye; according to the TipRanks database, these are stocks that gotten under the radar of the analyst class. They haven’t had much coverage, but Oppenheimer’s analysts believe that each could double or more in the next year. Let’s find out why.
Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals (CYCC)
The first stock we’re looking at, Cyclacel Pharma, is involved in clinical-stage research into new cancer medications. The company’s focus is on innovative drug candidates based on ‘cell cycle, transcriptional regulation, and mitosis biology;’ in plainer language, the way cells divide. Uncontrolled cell division is a hallmark of tumor growth, and Cyclacel aims to tackle that facet of cancer through several pathways.
Cyclacel has two main drug candidates in its pipeline, fadraciclib and CYC140. Both are undergoing clinical trials as treatments for solid tumors and leukemia, but with different mechanisms. The first is a transcriptional regulator, while the second is in the anti-mitotic program.
Fadraciclib is administered either orally or intravenously, and is an inhibitor or CDK2 and CDK9. It has been shown to cause death of cancer cells at sub-micromolar concentrations. The company plans to begin dosing patients with fadraciclib in Phase 1b/2 studies against solid tumors and leukemia by the end of this year. Data from the earlier Phase 1 study, against two forms of leukemia, will also be released later this year.
CYC140 follows a different pathway, being a selective inhibitor of PLK1, a mitotic pathway enzyme. PLK1 has a central role in cell division, and its inhibition in tumor cells is a promising mode of treatment. Like fadraciclib above, CYC140 will be entering a Phase 1/2 study against solid tumor and leukemia, with patient dosing to begin this year. The drug candidate has already completed a Phase 1 study in patients with advanced leukemias, and data from that study will also be released in the coming months.
Covering this stock for Oppenheimer, 5-star analyst Kevin DeGeeter lays out the upbeat prospects for the company.
“We view CYCC as offering a unique opportunity to participate in POC data readouts from two targeted cancer therapies before the end of 2022. Our investment thesis is based on the following assumptions: 1) oral fadraciclib maintains an acceptable safety profile, including myelosuppression—a key challenge for first-generation pan-CDK inhibitors; and 2) CYC140 exhibits potential for single-agent activity. With successful POC data from one or more Phase II expansion cohorts, we expect CYCC to explore opportunities for partnering of commercial rights to markets outside the US,” DeGeeter opined.
In line with his bullish comments, DeGeeter rates CYCC an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $17 price target. The figure is set to reward investors with 12-month returns of ~140%, should DeGeeter’s thesis play out accordingly. (To watch DeGeeter’s track record, click here)
Micro-cap biopharmas don’t get a lot of analyst attention – they tend to fly under the radar. However, there are two reviews on file here and both are to Buy, making the consensus rating a Moderate Buy. CYCC shares are priced at $7.06, with an average price target of $17.50 indicating a runway toward ~148% upside for 2021. (See CYCC stock analysis on TipRanks)
Chemomab Therapeutics (CMMB)
Next up, Chemomab, is another biotech firm. This company is focused on the treatment of fibrosis-related diseases, especially of the liver. The company merged with the Israeli biotech firm Anchiano this past December, forming a combined entity that will pool resources to develop Chemomab’s drug candidate, CM-101. The merged company began using the CMMB ticker on the NASDAQ this past March.
The pipeline drug, CM-101, is a monoclonal antibody, first in its class, targeting CCL24 and known to interfere with disease-causing fibrosis of the liver, skin, and lungs. Chemomab has three parallel programs, all Phase 2 clinical trials, to study CM-101 in the treatment of rare fibrotic diseases. These diseases include Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), Systemic Sclerosis, and Liver Fibrosis MoA (NASH).
The first is a chronic, progressive, cholestatic disease of the liver, without current treatment options. In preclinical studies, CM-101 was seen to inhibit the overexpression of CCL24 and to attenuate cholestasis and fibrosis in animal subjects. The company is currently enrolling patients in a Phase 2a clinical trial, SPRING, for the treatment of PSC. The trial is expected to enroll 45 patients by early 2022, and preliminary data is expected in the first half of next year.
Systemic Sclerosis is a rare, chronic autoimmune disease of the skin, and is better known as scleroderma. The disease can involve numerous organs of the body, and is slowly progressive. CM-101’s anti-fibrotic action has been found efficacious in preclinical studies, and a Phase 2 clinical trial is planned to start later this year.
Finally, NASH – non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or non-alcoholic fatty liver – is another fibrotic illness without a currently approved treatment. The disease is the liver manifestation of an underlying metabolic disorder, and can lead to liver failure. The Phase 1b clinical trial indicated that CM-101 was well-tolerated and showed promise in treating this condition. A Phase 2a trial, SPLASH, is scheduled to enroll 40 patients by year’s end, and early data is expected in 1H22.
Analyst Jeff Jones, in his coverage of this stock for Oppenheimer, notes the company’s pipeline and the cash runway as significant factors.
“Compelling results in several disease models point to CCL24 neutralization as a treatment strategy, and initial clinical safety is supportive. Phase 2 reveals in primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are anticipated in 1H:22, and a trial in systemic sclerosis (SSc) is on track to commence later this year. We would expect success in any of these poorly-met fibrotic indications, each of which offers sizable sales potential for CM-101, to drive significant value for CMMB. Cash runway, post recent financing, is approximately two-plus years,” Jones wrote.
To this end, Jones gives CMMB shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating along with a $42 price target. At the current share price of $16.63, that price target suggests an upside of ~153%.
This stock appears to be flying under the Street’s radar and currently Jones’ is the sole CMMB review. (See CMMB stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.