At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." Today, we'll show you whether those bigwigs actually know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS to track the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and worst.
Who's hot, who's not -- in biotech stocks Wednesday is turning out to be a good day indeed if you're an investor in big pharma ... or even little pharma for that matter. Across the length and breadth of the stock markets, analysts are doubling down on some of their favorite health care bets. Here are four that catch the eye today:
Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ:DNDN) Once a favorite of the go-go momentum-investing crowd, cancer researcher Dendreon -- maker of the pricey Provenge prostate cancer treatment -- scored a price target hike to $7 from analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald Wednesday.
According to the analyst, "expectations for Provenge are likely too low overall and ... Provenge will find a place in the treatment of CRPC above the current trend." Granted, Cantor warns that "this could take a bit some time to play out given near-term competition," and for that reason the analyst isn't quite ready yet to rate the stock a "buy" (it's only saying "hold," for now). But still -- the bump to a $7 price target suggests anyone willing to take the plunge today could end up with a 17% profit within a year.
Is it worth the risk, though? I mean, sure, Provenge could take off. But analysts have been making forecasts like this about Dendreon and its new wonder drug for years. To date, the stock remains unprofitable, short of its goal of making $500 million in annual sales (which Dendreon says it needs to "break even"), and according to most analysts, likely to see sales decline in 2013.
Call me a pessimist, but it's hard to see 17% upside in all that.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) Better prospects may be found in shares of Gilead Sciences, recipient of its own price target hike (from UBS this time) to $47.
Earnings are due out on Monday, providing the prospect of an immediate catalyst that could drive the shares higher. Adding to the attraction: Gilead is cheap.
The stock costs 25 times earnings, sure, and that may not look like a huge bargain on Gilead's 19% projected earnings growth. But with $3.3 billion in trailing free cash flow, a better way to look at this stock may be by looking past the GAAP numbers and valuing it instead at 18.4 times annual cash profits. Viewed from this perspective, 19% growth should be plenty fast to justify the share price. UBS likes Gilead as a "buy" -- and as you can see on my CAPS scorecard, so do I.