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Why Omeros Corporation Is the Best Buy in Biotech Right Now

By Cory Renauer - Nov 28, 2017 at 10:49AM

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This overlooked small-cap biotech stock has two well-lit paths to glory, but you only need to pay for one.

Omeros Corporation (OMER 15.86%) stock soared after the company reported surprisingly good results recently, but there's a lot more fuel in the tank to propel it even higher. This small-cap biotech boasts a commercial-stage drug growing by leaps and bounds, as well as a rare-disease candidate that could be worth billions.

With one commercial stage drug heading toward the $1 billion in annual sales threshold and another potential blockbuster in late-stage clinical trials, you might be surprised to learn this company's market cap is a sprightly $875 million at recent prices. Here's how it could be several times that amount in a few short years. 

Bull statue on Wall Street.

Image source: Getty Images.

In the pipe

Omeros Corporation's most advanced new drug candidate OMS721 could be the first available treatment for an underserved group of patients with related disorders called complement-mediated thrombotic microangiopathies (TMAs). Soliris from Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) is on pace to rack up $3 billion in annual sales as a treatment for some TMAs, and I think OMS721 could do even better.

Although OMS721 could run into competition with Soliris for some patients, Alexion's blockbuster isn't approved for about 130,000 Americans affected by immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy. This leaves the door wide open for Omeros Corporation's candidate, which is barreling toward the finish line.

The FDA wants to see more proof that OMS721 can lower the amount of protein these patients' damaged kidneys leak into their urine stream, a metric called proteinuria, which looks like a pitch this program can hit out of the park. During the study that encouraged the company to seek pivotal-trial-design guidance from the FDA in the first place, all four IgA nephropathy patients treated with OMS721 showed big proteinuria reductions.

The company intends to begin two pivotal trials for OMS721 before the end of the year, one trial for the big IgA nephropathy indication and another for patients with stem-cell transplantation issues. With one pivotal trial for the relatively small atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome population underway, the company could have data for three applications in 2018.

One person handing lots of hundred-dollar bills to another person.

Image source: Getty Images.

Omidria-funded research

Running those studies will get expensive, but that brings us to the reason this biotech stock stands out in a crowd. Sales of the company's first commercial-stage drug could offset rising research and development costs. Omidria finished the third quarter on pace to generate $86.6 million in annual sales, which was a 92% jump over the same period last year, and a 26% gain over the previous quarter. That narrowed the loss from operations for the quarter to just $5.1 million.

Eye surgeons use Omidria to keep pupils open during cataract and lens-replacement surgeries, which significantly lowers the risk of complications. There are millions of these procedures performed each year that would probably go a bit more smoothly with some Omidria, and I wouldn't be surprised if annual sales of the special eye drops eventually top out around the $1.0 billion mark.

Omeros recently fought back an attempt from Par Pharmaceuticals to launch a cheap generic version of Omidria. There are a lot of ins and outs to the ruling, but the privately held generic drugmaker won't be launching a cheap competitor until 2032 at the earliest.

Buy one get one free

Perhaps the best way to mitigate risk is to buy biotech stocks at bargain prices, and Omeros shares tick this box with a big magic marker. In fact, it looks like long-term investors could still come out ahead if either Omidria or OMS721 fizzled out.

Biotechs generally trade at mid-single-digit multiples of total revenue. This suggests that Omeros' recent market cap of around $921 million would increase several times if Omidria sales eventually climb to the $1 billion mark. 

There isn't any worrisome competition on Omidria's radar at the moment. If this revenue stream unexpectedly dries up, though, OMS721 could still lead to market-crushing gains. 

Beyond Omidria and OMS721, the company also has a schizophrenia candidate and an opioid addiction candidate in mid-stage clinical trials. With more Omidria revenue to fund these studies, investors can probably look forward to more news from these programs in the years ahead as well. Add it all up, and you've got a relatively safe biotech stock with huge upside potential.

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Stocks Mentioned

Omeros Corporation Stock Quote
Omeros Corporation
OMER
$3.58 (15.86%) $0.49
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
ALXN

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