3 SunTrust Buy-Rated Biotech Stocks Have Massive Upside Potential

One reason that investors continue to do business with full-service brokerage firms is they generate researched and studied investment ideas. When they make a call, they typically have solid reasons and a good thesis to back up the call, regardless of whether it is a long or short idea.

At 24/7 Wall St., we continually comb through sell-side research generated by the top brokerage firms and banks looking for ideas that can generate big returns. A series of new SunTrust reports focuses on three biotech companies that are rated Buy and have astronomical target prices.

While they are not suitable for all accounts, investors with a higher risk tolerance may be very interested in these very speculative calls. Despite the risk involved, some big gains could be in store, even if the companies don’t go all the way to the projected highs.

BioXcel Therapeutics

Here, the SunTrust analysts have made one of the most astonishing price target changes ever. BioXcel Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: BTAI) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on drug development.

Its two clinical development programs are BXCL501, a sublingual thin-film formulation designed for acute treatment of agitation resulting from neurological and psychiatric disorders, and BXCL701, an immuno-oncology agent designed for the treatment of a rare form of prostate cancer and for pancreatic cancer.

The stock exploded last week when the company announced that its Investigational New Drug application for BXCL501, the company’s proprietary formulation of dexmedetomidine has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid withdrawal is an emotional and physiological medical condition that may be driven by the excessive drive of noradrenergic neurons that originate from the locus coeruleus in the brainstem. BXCL501 selectively activates alpha-2a adrenergic receptors, which decreases excessive neuronal firing, alleviating the physiological symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

The SunTrust price target went from $24 to a stunning $150. The Wall Street consensus price target is $52.60, though it is surely poised to be moved higher as well. The shares closed last Friday at $36.97, up a sharp 55% on the day.

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical

Numerous catalysts could be in play for these shareholders this year. Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: RARE) is focused on development and commercialization of therapeutics for rare diseases. The company licenses assets that could treat small, underserved populations and have clear biology. The corporate strategy rests on timely and cost-efficient commercialization.

The company’s portfolio includes four commercial and late-stage assets and multiple preclinical drug candidates. SunTrust is very bullish on the steady launch of the firm’s Crysvita, plus positive data last month with results from its ongoing phase 1/2 study of DTX301 gene therapy for ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency.

The late-stage pipeline is poised to launch three drugs, and progression of pre-clinical assets into the clinic will maintain Ultragenyx long-term growth prospects. Upside is expected to come from accelerated approval and better than expected efficacy for pipeline drugs.

SunTrust has an $80 price target, while the consensus target is $71.68. The last trade on Friday was posted at $61.13 a share.

Viking Therapeutics

This small-cap biotech could have monster upside potential. Viking Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: VKTX) focuses on the development of therapies for metabolic and endocrine disorders. The company’s clinical program VK5211 treats patients recovering from non-elective hip fracture surgery. It also specializes in the development of VK2809 and VK0214.

Late last year, the company began midstage trials to determine the effectiveness and dosing range of its experimental oral drug VK2809, targeting non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a fatty liver condition rising among people with diets high in fats. Analysts estimate its market could reach $20 billion to $35 billion, but treatments for NASH so far have remained elusive.

SunTrust feels that VK2809 is the “best-in-class” NASH treatment, and they feel the shares should be trading at a premium to the competition, not a discount. They also point out that a whopping 24% of the shares are sold short, but positive top-line data could explode the stock higher.

The $28 SunTrust price target compares to the $23.70 consensus figure. Shares last closed at $6.73.

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