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J.P. Morgan: These 2 Healthcare Stocks Are Must-Watch Names

Marching forward together, the previous decade saw equities and bonds rally right alongside each other. At the same time, there was a negative correlation of daily returns, limiting portfolio volatility. This was a good thing for multi-asset portfolios like pension funds which benefited from the high-low frequency correlation, with declining yields also giving a bump to specific equity market sectors.

Today, things have changed, with bond yields landing at almost zero. According to J.P. Morgan strategist Marko Kolanovic, this implies that the trend might be fading away, which poses a major threat to multi-asset portfolios.

“Should yields (or inflation expectations) start rising, these portfolios could experience a triple-whammy: bond values would go lower, valuations of the above-described equity market segments would be under pressure, and bond-equity correlation would deteriorate as it is itself correlated with yields,” Kolanovic explained. The strategist added that even if yields don’t rise, in the long run, it’s unlikely that such portfolios will see mid-to-high single-digit returns.

So, what does Kolanovic think investors should do? He suggests buying stocks with a more negative correlation to bonds, pointing to value and cyclical names in particular.

Offering up concrete recommendations based on Kolanovic’s strategy, the analysts at J.P. Morgan are pounding the table on two stocks, noting that each could climb at least 60% higher in the year ahead. Using TipRanks’ database, we found out that each ticker has also received Buy ratings from the rest of the Street.

Autolus Therapeutics (AUTL)

Primarily focused on the development of precisely targeted, controlled and highly active T cell therapies, Autolus Therapeutics wants to offer cancer patients treatment options that are superior to the existing standard of care. Given its innovative technology, it’s clear why J.P. Morgan has been impressed by this healthcare name.

Writing for the firm, four-star analyst Eric Joseph calls its lead programs, AUTO1 and AUTO3, “potentially best-in-class autologous CAR-T candidate therapies for the treatment of ALL and DLBCL.” When it comes to AUTO1, the available Phase 1/2 data provides a “meaningful de-risking,” with it having the potential to be the first auto-CAR-T therapy approved for both adult and pediatric ALL.

Expounding on this, Joseph stated, “Combined, we forecast a worldwide peak sales opportunity of ~$275 million and anticipate U.S. approval for AUTO1 in 2023. Further, as the company is also exploring adoption potential in the outpatient/community oncology setting, we see the safety profile demonstrated to date.”

As for AUTO3, its dual CD19/CD22-targeting CAR design makes it a stand-out, in Joseph’s opinion, as it could “yield more durable remissions relative to the currently approved CAR-T class.” In addition, the fact that the asset is more easily tolerated means it could be adopted in an outpatient setting, potentially expanding the addressable DLBCL commercial opportunity. Pivotal development is slated to kick off in 1H21, with regulatory approval potentially coming in 2024. The analyst estimates a worldwide peak sales opportunity of $1.5 billion.

To this end, Joseph tells clients to watch out for several possible catalysts in 2H20 including full Phase 1 data for the ALEXANDER study of AUTO3 in DLBCL, long-term follow-up data from the Phase 1 ALLCAR19 study of AUTO1 in adult ALL as well as the initiation of Phase 1 development for AUTO1NG (pediatric ALL), AUTO3NG (DLBCL) and AUTO8 (multiple myeloma).

Based on these key catalysts, Joseph commented, “…we believe current AUTL levels undervalue the risk-adjusted commercial potential of these two lead programs in addition to the broader pipeline of CAR-T candidates for heme onc and solid tumor indications.”

All of the above convinced Joseph to step over to the bulls’ side. In addition to initiating coverage with an Overweight rating, the analyst set a $25 price target. This target suggests shares could rise 67.5% in the year ahead. (To watch Joseph’s track record, click here)   

The bulls represent the majority on this one. Out of 8 total reviews published in the last three months, 7 analysts rated the stock a Buy, while only 1 said Hold. So, the word on the Street is that AUTL is a Strong Buy. The $25.29 average price target lands just above Joseph’s and puts the upside potential at 73%. (See AUTL stock analysis on TipRanks)

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN)

Targeting rare and devastating diseases, Alexion Pharmaceuticals hopes its therapies will be able to address the unmet medical needs of patients from all over the world. On the heels of its strong Q2 showing, J.P. Morgan thinks that now is the time to pull the trigger.

Thanks to continued solid commercial execution across its key franchises, five-star analyst Cory Kasimov tells investors that ALXN was able to deliver double-digit top and bottom-line beats. As a result, management boosted its 2020 guidance for the top and bottom-lines. This is set to be driven by the lower than expected impact to new patient starts in 1H, strong compliance rates across indications, continued conversion to Ultomiris (aHUS in particular) and payer impact that hasn’t been observed yet.

Although the new patient queue is slowing and COVID-19 poses a risk to compliance rates, which could have a negative impact on the top-line and operating margins, management announced a commitment to $500-$550 million of repurchases in 2020, increasing to at least one third of free cash flow, on average, from 2021-2023.

Looking at its pipeline, it should be noted that ALXN discontinued ALXN-2040 (danicopan) in C3G, much to the dismay of some investors. That being said, plans for the Phase 3 study in PNH are on track.

As a reminder, its Soliris therapy got the stamp of approval in 2007 and up until the approval of ALXN’s follow-on product, Ultomiris, in December 2018, it was the only available therapy for the treatment of PNH. Even though Ultomiris wasn’t able to generate superior results over Soliris in Phase 3 studies, its less frequent dosing schedule has enabled the rapid conversion, in Kasimov’s opinion.

“We see the rapid conversion of Ultomiris in PNH translating to the aHUS indication, as well continued uptake of Soliris in neurology, which sets up the C5 franchise for a sustainable growth trajectory further supporting the attractive risk/reward profile at the current valuation,” Kasimov said.

Based on everything ALXN has going for it, Kasimov reiterated an Overweight rating. He also bumped up the price target from $158 to $167, suggesting 59% upside potential. (To watch Kasimov’s track record, click here)  

Turning now to the rest of the Street, 10 Buys and 5 Holds have been assigned in the last three months, which add up to a Moderate Buy consensus rating. In addition, the $146.67 average price target brings the upside potential to 41%. (See ALXN stock analysis on TipRanks)

To find good ideas for healthcare stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.

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 and to consider your own personal circumstances before making any investment. 

Maya Sasson
Maya Sasson originally from San Francisco, California, is a financial blogger focusing on U.S. stocks as well as analyst activity. Before diving into the world of financial writing, she earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Tufts University, and began her career as a data analyst for a software company

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