The coronavirus has thrust many previously unknown pharma companies into the spotlight. You can certainly place Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) on this list. The company’s unique approach to fighting COVID-19 has resulted in sky scraping surges, yet it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
The Yale School of Public has recently won an FDA emergency approval for its saliva-based diagnostic test, which puts it ahead of Sorrento’s COVI-TRACE. Adding more fuel to fire, Sorrento announced the ousting of its chief financial officer. In reaction, investors got cold feet, sending shares tumbling nearly 35% in the past two weeks.
Sorrento’s playbook for fighting the coronavirus is to go at it from all angles. The company is developing a COVID-19 vaccine, has several therapeutic candidates, a diagnostic test, and an antibody test. The latter is code-named COVI-TRACK, and after watching a commercial for Abbott’s 5-minute saliva-based COVID test, Dawson James analyst Jason Kolbert spoke to Sorrento’s CEO about Abbot’s offering. The head honcho shared a few key thoughts: “1. This is great progress, but the test is designed to work once these China virus patients become symptomatic. 2. The Sorrento test (COVITRACK) is also rapid, saliva-based, is designed as a genomic assay and, as such, can detect the presence of virus in asymptomatic patients.”
“As such,” Kolbert said following the conversation, “We remain excited to see this test receive EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) and final approval for COVID.”
The test has already been analytically validated. RT-PCR testing of sample cohorts from healthy donors and confirmed positive COVID-19 patient samples showed that COVI-TRACK had a specificity higher than 97% and diagnostic sensitivity of more than 94%.
Sorrento believes it can produce up to five million test kits per month and upon issuance of a EUA, the COVI-TRACK test will be “available for distribution to clinical testing sites nationwide.”
Down to the nitty gritty, then, what does it all mean for investors? Kolbert reiterated a Buy on SRNE shares to accompany a $21 price target. This conveys Kolbert’s confidence shares will soar by a hefty 190% over the next 12 months. (To watch Kolbert’s track record, click here)
Over the past 3 months, only one other analyst has thrown the hat in with a Sorrento review. The additional Buy bestows on Sorrento a Moderate Buy consensus rating. Investors could be pocketing a massive 240% gain, should the $27 average price target be met in the year ahead. (See SRNE stock analysis on TipRanks)
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