With the (April 16 “Fed to the rescue” speech from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, I’m going to start, slowly, picking up some bargains from the recent momentum, technology, biotech sell off. The NASDAQ Composite came close to an honest to goodness 10% correction and the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (IBB) did drop into 20% bear market territory. I’m not absolutely convinced that we’ve seen the end of this decline, but with Yellen saying that the Fed is likely to keep short-term rates at 0% until unemployment drops to 5.5% (instead of the former 6.5% target) and that this could take two-years, I’m willing to put some money to work in a belief that the Fed has shifted the risk/reward ratio in the current market toward reward
Today I’m going to add one biotech stock Incyte (INCY) to my Jubak’s Picks portfolio http://www.jubakpicks.com/the-jubak-picks/ . The shares were up 1.3% on Thursday, April 17. Even with that gain, the shares are still down 34% from their February 25, 2014 high.
But I’m not buying Incyte simply because it was a high-flying momentum stock that I expect to regain its momentum (although I do.) Incyte is on the cutting edge of a new wave of cancer drugs that attacks the connection between cancer and inflammation. This connection, once controversial, now looks like one of the most promising and broadest new approaches to fighting cancer. In 2014 and 2015 Incyte is set to announce the results of trials that will, in my opinion, validate its cancer platform. That will put the company in the position of introducing a number of drugs based on that platform but targeted to specific cancers.
The first results have come in Phase II trials of Incyte’s JAK inhibitors in pancreatic cancer. The FDA has agreed to a Special Protocol Assessment for a Phase III trial that will target the subgroup that showed the most positive response in the Phase II trials. (The company also plans to conduct a parallel Phase III trial with a broader population.) Enrollment in these trials is scheduled for the first half of 2014.
In addition Incyte will start three Phase II trials in the first half of 2014 to evaluate the same therapy in non-small cell lung cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Incyte’s cancer-inflation platform is that it could also yield approaches to non-cancer inflammation-based diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Incyte is involved with Eli Lilly (LLY) in Phase II trials of a rheumatoid arthritis drug with first results scheduled for presentation in 2015. (Incyte’s funding deal with Lilly for this drug gives Incyte a potential high-20s% royalty participation.)
All in all by the end of 2014 Incyte will have 9 different drugs in clinical development for 26 different indications. Of those 26, 21 indications are in cancer.
I also like it that Incyte has been able to recruit major talent in Herve Hoppenot, the president of Novartis Oncology from 2010 until January 2014, as its new CEO. (Novartis (NVS) is one of Incyte’s key marketing partners in Europe.)
My initial target price for Incyte is $68 by October 2014.
Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. When in 2010 I started the mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund http://jubakfund.com/, I liquidated all my individual stock holdings and put the money into the fund. The fund did not own shares of Incyte as of the end of December. In preparation for closing the fund at the end of May, as of the end of March I had moved the fund’s holdings almost totally to cash.