These days, Wall Street analysts love
a whole lot more than regular investors do.
Virtually every mainstream analyst who follows the company has kept recommending the stock straight through a 35% plunge in the shares. The stock, which peaked at $42.27 back in March, has started to reflect clear concerns about a company that has no breakthrough drugs on the market as insiders continue to sell their own shares.
To be sure, it looks nothing like the wonderful investment opportunity that C.E. Unterberg Towbin analyst Andrew Fein started pushing a few months ago.
Back then, with especially poor timing, Fein initiated coverage of Myogen with a buy recommendation and a Street-high $58 target price on the stock. The call seemed like a decent one for less than three weeks. The stock rose about 7% during that time before plunging on news of an unpopular partnership deal that will cut into the company's expected profits going forward.
first started raising concerns about the company just a few days before that dive.
Meanwhile, analysts have never changed their tune since the slide began.
"Despite the bad news coming out of the company -- like the cash burn, the competitor's near-term successes, insiders' massive selling and a key executive departure -- not one analyst has downgraded the stock," notes Source Capital Vice President Robert Lawton, who touted Myogen as a great short-selling opportunity when the stock was fetching nearly $39 a share several months ago. "Andrew Fein doesn't even cover that many companies for Unterberg. So where is that guy? What does he do all day?"
Fein was out of the office when
attempted to reach him by telephone on Thursday. Fein was out of the office when TheStreet.com attempted to reach him by telephone on Thursday. His firm makes a market in Myogen's securities and hopes to secure investment banking business from the company over the next three months. The firm has a similar arrangement with competitor
Of course, Fein's bullish call hardly stands out.
Just take a look at the reports penned by Geoffrey Meacham at JPMorgan. Last week, Meacham reiterated his overweight rating on Myogen because of an "incremental positive" development involving a drug that's just now being tested in Phase III trials and -- if approved -- may not hit the market for years. Meanwhile, the company will likely follow Encysive onto the market with its other drug.
But Meacham likes the stock regardless.
"We believe MYOG shares do not fully reflect the significant market opportunities associated with the company's two potentially best-in-class agents," Meacham explains. Thus, "we continue to view Myogen as one of our favorite names in the mid-cap space."
The stock was sitting at $29.29 a share when Meacham published his report. It went on to fall through a key support level around $28.70 and has struggled to claw its way back, rising to $27.17 on Thursday, since that time.
Meanwhile, Meacham has expressed far more caution about Encysive, despite upgrades from his competitors. Encysive recently rocketed on news that its treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH, could be approved as early as July and handily beat Myogen's competing PAH drug to the market. Meacham reacted by saying that Encysive could still fail to get the drug approved -- while admitting the opposite usually happens -- and claiming that the company will not benefit from its headstart against Myogen even if regulators bless its drug next month.
"The competitive profile of (Encysive's) Thelin is no different than previously thought," Meacham writes, "where a launch ahead of Myogen's ambrisentan will ultimately not matter given the best-in-class profile of ambrisentan."
JPMorgan counts both Myogen and Encysive as its clients and owns stock in both of the companies. However, JPMorgan lists itself as a "major shareholder" of Myogen alone.
Change of Heart
While sticking by Myogen, as well, Fein has now changed his mind about Encysive twice.
Fein initiated coverage on Encysive in February with a buy recommendation when the stock fetched around $9 a share. He then downgraded Encysive to underperform the following month when a regulatory setback cut the stock in half. He reversed course this month, recommending the stock anew after the company overcame that setback and saw its shares climb back to the $7 level. The stock, while up 1.8% to $6.83 on Thursday, has lost a bit of ground since that upgrade.
For the most part, it seems, Fein has recommending buying Encysive before it falls and selling it before it climbs. Meanwhile, he continues to recommend Myogen -- without any change of heart -- as it loses ground.
Lawton faults him for the latter.
"Analysts have to take a stand, and sometimes they're wrong," acknowledges Lawton, who has gone against Wall Street recommendations with his short position in Myogen and long bet on Encysive. "But they need to step up and say something when they make a mistake. They need to downgrade the stock, comment on it -- at least do something. But where are all of these analysts right now?"