H.C. Wainwright Downgrades Agenus Inc. (AGEN) to Neutral
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H.C. Wainwright downgraded Agenus Inc. (NASDAQ: AGEN) from Buy to Neutral with a price target of $5.00 (from $10.00).
Analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth commented, "During Agenus’ 3Q16 earnings call held on October 27, management announced the development of CTLA-4 and PD-1 checkpoint modulators (CPMs) as the focus of the company’s cancer immunotherapy pipeline. According to management, in addition to the ongoing Phase 1 study of AGN1884 (an anti-CTLA-4 antibody), the company is planning to initiate Phase 1 studies using AGN2034 (an anti-PD-1 antibody) as well as a second, unnamed anti-CTLA-4 product in 2017. While we continue to believe that Agenus’ broad immunotherapy portfolio, which includes over a dozen CPM candidates as well as three cancer vaccine platforms, has great potential, we find it puzzling that management did not choose a product candidate targeting next generation checkpoint targets such as TIM-3 or CEACAM1, where the company could become a market leader, as the lead product. We believe the focus on CTLA-4 and PD-1 significantly increases the risk of any future commercialization plans due to the presence of proven and well-established competitor products in the market. Furthermore, we believe there is a lack of clarity regarding the company’s cancer vaccine development programs with regards to potential targets, partners and timelines. Therefore, in our view the only expected near-term events for the company are the initiations of Phase 1 clinical studies, which we believe are unlikely to drive the stock price, and any significant clinical results are at least 12-18 months away. At this point, we are stepping to the sidelines until we gain clarity regarding the timelines of the more lucrative programs and better visibility on meaningful catalysts. We are downgrading AGEN to Neutral with a price target of $5.00, down from $10.00 previously."
Shares of Agenus Inc. closed at $4.33 yesterday.
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