Hedge Fund Darling Mirati’s $5 Billion Stock Rally Set for Test

(Bloomberg) — Mirati Therapeutics Inc. has more than doubled from March lows, amassing a market value of over $8 billion, though it has yet to produce a marketable drug.The stock’s swift ascension will face a test this weekend when investors get a new look at results for an experimental medicine that works on a cancer target once thought to be “undruggable.”“Mirati has been one of the most frequently asked-about names within our coverage universe,” Anupam Rama, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst, said ahead of the data. Investors are waiting to see if Mirati’s drug known as adagrasib, or MRTX849, can drive better responses in cancer patients than Amgen Inc.’s sotorasib. Early results in September from the biotech giant disappointed some vaunted expectations.Both medicines target mutations known as KRAS — most often found in lung tumors but also in colon and pancreatic growths. Mirati, which counts savvy health-care investors like Baker Bros Advisors LP, OrbiMed Advisors LLC and RTW Investments LP among its holders, will be reporting early stage-results Sunday at the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics.After a more than 150% run-up from March, the risk-reward for Mirati shares is fundamentally “unfavorable,” according to Rama, who has an overweight rating on the stock. But with the biotech often on Wall Street M&A target lists and JPMorgan’s highly anticipated annual investor meeting in January — often a breeding ground for health-care sector deals — a “sell the news” scenario might be avoided, he said in a research note.A best-case scenario for MRTX849, and a potential win for patients, would be if the medicine could spur reponses in at least 40% of lung cancer patients who get it. That would be enough to differentiate the drug from sotorasib, which has shown around a 35% rate, according to a Piper Sandler survey.How long those responses last is also key. If they continue longer than 10 months, paired with a better response rate, the stock may reach above $240, according to the survey. Results that are inferior to Amgen’s drug could push shares back by more than 20%.Even if results disappoint, the Street widely expects Mirati as well as Amgen’s drugs to win U.S. regulatory approval, giving cancer patients new treatment options.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Analyst Report: Amgen Inc.

Amgen is a leader in biotechnology-based human therapeutics, with historical expertise in renal disease and cancer supportive-care products. Flagship drugs include red blood cell boosters Epogen and Aranesp, immune system boosters Neupogen and Neulasta, and Enbrel and Otezla for inflammatory diseases. Amgen introduced its first cancer therapeutic, Vectibix, in 2006 and received approval for bone-strengthening drug Prolia/Xgeva in 2010. Amgen’s acquisition of Onyx bolstered the firm’s therapeutic oncology portfolio with Nexavar and Kyprolis. Recent launches include Repatha (cholesterol-lowering) and Aimovig (migraine).

Better Buy: Amgen vs. Bristol Myers Squibb

Both Amgen and BMS have delivered disappointing returns for investors so far this year. Ironically, Amgen’s biggest growth driver is Otezla, a drug the company acquired from Celgene last year to pave the way for BMS’ acquisition of Celgene. Without Otezla in its lineup, Amgen’s total revenue would have declined year over year in the second quarter of 2020.