Jefferies upgrades this pharma stock, citing overlooked 'blockbuster' drug opportunities


Jefferies says that AstraZeneca’s pipeline is robust and includes therapies other than oncology. Investors shouldn’t overlook this, they say. Analyst Peter Welford upgraded this stock from hold to buy. He also raised his price target for U.S. listed shares from $66.50 to $80, which would suggest a potential 18% increase from Friday’s $67.83 closing price. Welford wrote in a note on Monday that the consensus was overlooking potential opportunities from late-stage cardio & respiratory pipelines assets, including Airsupra tozorakimab and eplontersen. Analyst Welford said that these R & D products offer “significant downside optionality” which can boost earnings and sales by 8%. Airsupra, an asthma treatment, was cited as a “blockbuster inhaler”. According to a physician survey, it could generate approximately $1 billion in additional sales. He said the inhaler that will be launched in 2024 is a “derisked asset”. Jefferies believes that AstraZeneca’s tozorakimab for chronic obstructive lung disease is also underappreciated. It has the potential to reach peak sales of $4.5 billion, according to Jefferies. The firm also suggests up to $3.5 billion in sales for AstraZeneca’s eplontersen , a drug aimed at treating hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloid polyneuropathy. AstraZeneca is poised to become the leader in breast cancer treatment. Jefferies reports that AstraZeneca’s Enhertu treatment, which is being developed jointly with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo is “rapidly” becoming the standard of care for breast cancer and is on track to achieve $14 billion in sales. AstraZeneca, which is also developing breast cancer treatments with Daiichi, announced positive news on Friday. In a late-stage study, its experimental precision drug datopotamab Deruxtecan showed an improvement in slowing down the progression of a type of breast cancer that is common. After the news, the pharma stock jumped. Welford did note that AstraZeneca faces uncertainty in the upcoming lung cancer results and Pascal Soriot’s departure plans. AstraZeneca shares have fallen 5.2% this quarter, and are down less than 0.1% on the year. Stocks rose by more than 1% before the market opened on Monday. Michael Bloom, a CNBC reporter, contributed to this article.