Opko Health (NYSE: OPK) – Friday March 28
Finally, we have hybrid diagnostic and pharmaceutical product developer Opko Health, which offers a great degree of promise thanks to a pipeline that spans a number of indications, but also looks as if its valuation may be way ahead of its potential.
On the bright side Opko has delivered a number of positives in recent months based on its pipeline. For instance rolapitant, an experimental therapy for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea & vomiting, which it licensed to Tesaro (NASDAQ: TSRO) in 2010, met its primary endpoint in both of its phase 3 trials. As part of the deal when it was signed, Opko is eligible to receive up to $121 million in milestone payments as well as share in profits from commercialization in Japan. In addition, Opko has the option to market rolapitant in Latin America. Opko is also in the process of conducting a phase 3 trial of lead drug rayaldy for patients with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and vitamin D insufficiency, which has blockbuster potential.
So while there are good things happening with aspects of Opko’s development process, the underlying fundamentals right now are downright ugly. Despite its revenue doubling in 2013 to $96.5 million, the company’s current valuation of $3.9 billion implies a price-to-sales of about 40! Meanwhile, Opko burned through $58.2 million in cash as its loss more than tripled to $114.8 million for the full year from $31.3 million in the previous year.
Fundamentals aside, the real concern I have is that investors have already factored in stellar results from its late-stage rayaldy trial. I’m not implying that rayaldy hasn’t been demonstrated as safe or effective, because its phase 2 trial did meet its primary endpoint. However, until we know just how effective rayaldy is based on its top-line phase 3 results — due next quarter — it’s probably not wise to push Opko’s valuation near $4 billion. Call me a stickler, but I’d prefer to count my chickens after they’ve hatched.
Long story short, we have a company with a few high profile potential blockbusters, but a valuation that would imply success is a near given. That looks like a formula which implies more downside than upside potential, making it a good watchlist add for risk-taking short-sellers.