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Inovio (INO) Stock Is a Winner, but Its Valuation Is Getting Stretched

Recent headlines were saturated with the alarming uptick of new coronavirus cases in several states. Accordingly, the stock market experienced a sell off. Yet, stocks of companies engaged in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment took the news as a bullish signal.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) skyrocketed over 100% this week, after the coronavirus vaccine maker disclosed it had been given $71 million by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). This will go toward the manufacturing of its Cellectra 3PSP smart device and the purchase of Cellectra 2000 devices. These are the devices through which Inovio’s COVID-19 DNA vaccine candidate INO-4800 is delivered into the skin.

INO-4800 is currently in a Phase 1 trial with interim data expected in June. A Phase 2/3 trial of INO-4800 should also kick off in the summer.

Maxim analyst Naureen Quibria argues the new contract represents vindication for Inovio’s vaccine program.

“The DoD coming on board for manufacturing of the delivery device ahead of the vaccine reaching approval is supportive and validating for INO-4800 in our view… As such, while the focus in the space seems to still be on mRNA based vaccines, a vaccine approach that has never yet been approved for any indication (oncology, infectious diseases, etc), Inovio’s DNA-based vaccine is making substantial progress, has support from multiple groups and the platform has a pedigree of safety and success in clinical trials for multiple indications,” the analyst commented.

Quibria, therefore, reiterated a Buy on Inovio shares, while bumping the price target to $24 (from $18). (To watch Quibria’s track record, click here) After Inovio’s latest surge, the stock is currently trading below the analyst’s price target.

Overall, among the 8 analysts to have posted a review of Inovio over the last 3 months, 5 recommend Buy while 3 say Hold. INO’s Moderate Buy consensus rating comes with a $17.57 price target attached. However, the Street has some catching up to do, as the figure currently represents downside of 26%. (See Inovio stock analysis on TipRanks)

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