Why Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. Shares Exploded Higher Again

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ICPT  ) , a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies to treat chronic liver disease, vaulted higher by as much as 75% following four price target upgrades from Wall Street firms.

So what: Following yesterday's 281% romp higher (a gain of better than $200 per share) on the heels of news that its mid-stage study of obeticholic acid (OCA) for nonalcoholic steathohepatitis (NASH) was ended early because of statistically significant efficacy, four research firms drastically boosted their price targets on Intercept. Oppenheimer upped its target price from $94 to $360; BMO Capital jumped its target price to $375 from $270; Citigroup moved its target from $60 to $400; and the whopper of them all was Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which boosted its price target from $81 to $872! Bank of America Merrill Lynch is predicting peak OCA sales of $4 billion.

Now what: With a two-day move of nearly $400 per share and more than 500%, the magnitude of this move is starting to border on silly -- primarily because today's move appears to be nothing more than a rally based on analyst comments, which are often fleeting and rarely have any bearing on our long-term investing thesis. I'll repeat what I said yesterday, which is that an enormous move like this had best be met with perfect clinical data and (if approved) launch execution from here on out, or this premium could disappear just as fast. Following Intercept's historic run, I see no better recourse than to stick to the sidelines, far away from this highly volatile issue until we've had some time for the dust to clear.

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