Stifel resumes coverage of Inovio Pharma at buy; PT $8

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Stifel resumed coverage of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) with a “buy” rating and $8 price target, saying the implied risk/reward appears palatable. The stock closed at $5.35 on Oct. 1.

Analyst Steven Willey writes that Inovio's successful leveraging of its core ASPIRE platform technology (comprising optimized/uniquely-administered DNA-based vaccines) into a pipeline of both wholly-owned and partnered product candidates capable of activating antigen-specific humoral and cellular immune responses relevant in the treatment/prevention of various cancers and infectious diseases provides meaningful near/longer-term optionality, which appears attractively priced at current levels.

“Our perception of clinical risk underlying the ongoing Phase 3 VGX-3100 development program in patients with HPV+ cervical high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) remains favorable,” he added.

And while acknowledging potential commercial headwinds to future adoption/reimbursement, Mr. Willey said he expects longer-term label-expansion into more-difficult-to-treat, HPV+ anogenital HSIL patients to improve his confidence in the addressable market opportunity.

Stephen Kilmer