Stocks can fall for any number of reasons, but successful investors know to look under the hood before bailing out. Some stocks will sputter and stall, only to restart and accelerate later. If the underlying business is sound, even a sharp drop in share value may be an incident rather than a lasting hit.
But before you buy a beaten-down stock, make sure to do your homework first, and find out what’s behind the stock’s share price drop.
With this in mind, we set out on our own search for compelling investment opportunities trading at a discount. Using TipRanks database, we were able to find 2 stocks that are down from their recent peaks, while some Wall Street analysts believe a turnaround is on the horizon. Let’s take a closer look.
uniQure N.V. (QURE)
We’ll start in the biotech sector, with uniQure, a gene therapy company, researching single-dose, potentially curative, treatments for patients with severe genetic diseases. uniQure’s two most advanced programs are treatments for hemophilia and Huntington’s disease, which are in Phase 3 and Phase 1/2 trials, respectively. The treatments are adeno-associated virus-based gene therapies (AAV), developed on a proprietary platform.
The FDA has placed a hold on the company’s hemophilia B studies, following the mid-December safety report that identified a serious adverse event during the HOPE-B Phase 3 clinical trial of AMT-061. One patient was diagnosed with HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common liver cancer) during the study. That patient had several HCC risk factors, including a long history of hepatitis C and B, smoking, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. uniQure has since screened over 100 patients in all of its hemophilia B programs, including all 54 patients in the HOPE-B study for liver complications, with negative results; the company and the FDA are now evaluating this event. Preliminary indications are, the adverse event was not related to this specific gene therapy.
uniQure’s other main pipeline project, AMT-130, is a potential treatment for Huntington’s disease, a severe, genetically related mental disorder. AMT-130 is undergoing Phase 1/2 clinical trials, with the second dose cohort due to start enrollment in 3Q21. A second clinical study of AMT-130 is scheduled to start in Europe in 2H21.
Through all of this, QURE shares are down 26% since the FDA hold on AMT-061. However, analyst Difei Yang, of Mizuho, takes note of the investigation of the HCC event in the HOPE-B trial as a boost for investors.
“[We] believe these analyses suggest that multiple risk factors independent of AAV vector integration likely contributed to the development of HCC. The company submitted these analyses to the FDA, and an update on the clinical hold status could be expected as early as in 2Q21,” Yang noted.
Yang sees the stock’s current valuation and positive prospects as reason for optimism.
“[We] see … a favorable risk/reward in the shares given: 1) a positive safety update on the lead HemB program which we see as a de-risking event for the company, and 2) initial efficacy data from the Huntington’s program expected in late 2021/early 2022. We expect this data update to be a closely-watched catalyst following the recent failures of competing ASO programs,” Yang summed up.
To this end, Yang gives QURE a $52 price target to go long with her upgraded stance, indicating a 45% upside potential for the year ahead. (To watch Yang’s track record, click here)
The stumbling blocks that have hit QURE in recent months are a type familiar to followers of the biotech industry, and so the analysts have not deserted this stock – QURE shares have a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, based on 5 recent positive reviews. The shares are priced at $35.78, with an average price target of $67.40 suggesting an 88% one-year upside. (See QURE stock analysis on TipRanks)
Ontrack is another stock related to the healthcare industry – but on the customer facing end rather than biotech research. Ontrak is in the telehealth niche, using an AI-powered platform to track and monitor patients with chronic disease conditions, recommending behavioral modifications to improve health outcomes. The company combines predictive analysis and human engagement in its program, and has delivered durable cost savings for more than half of its enrolled members.
Shares in in Ontrak had been rising through the beginning of February, but started slipping in the middle of that month. In March, several headline events began impacting the stock, and shares dropped 63% from their peak.
The first hit came when management, in the Q4 earnings pre-announcement, revealed that the company’s largest customer, Aetna, would be terminating its contract in June of this year. The news pushed the 2021 guidance down, making forward projections much worse than the Street had anticipated. The actual Q4 results, however, showed substantial year-over-year increases in revenue – Q4’s top line, at $29.3 million, was up 149% yoy.
The quarterly results were followed on March 16 by the announcement that Jonathan Mayhew, Executive VP of CVS, would step up as CEO of Ontrak starting April 12. Mayhew is a former executive from Aetna, and there is hope that his connections will help Ontrak to regain its largest contract.
The announcement of Mayhew’s accession to the top spot at Ontrak prompted 5-star Canaccord analyst Richard Close to upgrade his rating on OTRK shares from Hold to Buy.
“[We] view this [the Mayhew hire] as a major positive for Ontrak and validation of the company’s service offering. The addition of Mayhew could enable Ontrak to regain its Aetna Behavioral Health contract for substance use disorder (SUD) and potentially also add anxiety and depression conditions, while also opening up the potential for other populations at Aetna and CVS Health,” Close opined.
The analyst added, “We do note in 2021 the financial optics of losing Aetna still remain, but longer term this hire is very encouraging for Ontrak’s growth, and we believe it will provide the opportunity for multiple expansion from the stock’s historically discounted valuation.”
Close’s comments back his upgraded stance, and his $46 price target suggests room for ~33% one-year upside. (To watch Close’s track record, click here)
The rest of the Street leans to the bullish side. OTRK’s Moderate Buy consensus rating is based on 3 Buys and 2 holds. There’s possible upside of 36%, should the target of $47 be met in the year ahead. (See OTRK 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.