A low share price doesn't mean that a stock is a bargain. It's quite possible for a stock trading at $7 per share to be much less attractively priced than a stock with a share price of $700 per share. Share price doesn't matter nearly as much as the earnings growth potential that you get for whatever you pay per share.
That being said, a lower share price does allow you to buy more shares of a given stock. And low-priced stocks have a kind of psychological appeal for some investors.
If you're looking for stocks with low share prices, there are three that I think warrant careful consideration. Here's why Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN), Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), and PDL Biopharma (NASDAQ:PDLI) are three top stocks under $10.
Geron's share price currently stands between $6 and $7, up more than 240% so far this year. The biotech's lead pipeline candidate, imetelstat, is also its only pipeline candidate. As imetelstat goes, so goes Geron.
It's quite possible that Geron could soon receive some very good news for imetelstat. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is collaborating with Geron on evaluating the drug in a phase 2 clinical study targeting treatment of myelofibrosis and in a phase 2/3 clinical study for treating myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Geron expects J&J to announce its decision on whether or not it will continue developing the drug by the end of September.
All signs right now point to a positive decision by J&J. Geron's management team appears to be cautiously optimistic. Johnson & Johnson continues to prominently feature imetelstat in its pipeline updates as one of four new oncology drugs that it expects to submit for regulatory approval by 2021. Perhaps most intriguingly, J&J recently posted a new job for a strategic pricing manager with responsibilities including leading the pricing strategy for imetelstat.
If Johnson & Johnson opts to advance imetelstat to the next stage of development, it would be huge for Geron. The small biotech would receive a $65 million milestone payment. And the chances of Geron having its first product on the market within the next few years would increase dramatically.
Novavax's stock trades at less than $2 per share. Like Geron, Novavax is a clinical-stage biotech. However, unlike Geron, the company has more than just one pipeline candidate.
The most important candidate for Novavax right now is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine ResVax. Novavax is evaluating ResVax in a phase 3 study for protecting infants from RSV via maternal immunization. In August, the biotech announced that a key enrollment threshold had been reached in this study. Novavax hopes to file for U.S. regulatory approval of ResVax in early 2020 if all goes well with the late-stage study.
The company's pipeline also includes a promising nanoparticle-based influenza vaccine, NanoFlu. Novavax is currently evaluating NanoFlu in a phase 2 study, with results expected in the first quarter of 2019. Assuming those results are positive, the biotech should begin a phase 3 study in the second half of next year.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity for Novavax lies in a candidate that's only in preclinical testing. Market research firm EvaluatePharma views the biotech's combination influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine as the most promising vaccine in development right now. EvaluatePharma projects this combo vaccine could generate annual sales of $1.82 billion by 2024 if approved.
3. PDL Biopharma
PDL Biopharma's share price is currently between $2 and $3. While Geron and Novavax hope to soon launch their first approved products, PDL is still trying to get over the impact of losing patent protection for major blockbusters including Avastin and Herceptin.
The company is a deal-maker. PDL Biopharma's business model is to acquire and manage companies and products, provide debt financing, and provide financing to small drugmakers and medical device makers in exchange for royalties. One deal that's paying off for PDL right now is its equity investment in Noden Pharmaceuticals in 2016. Noden's Tekturna and Rasilez blood pressure drugs generated more than half of PDL's total revenue in the second quarter.
PDL's most recent deal involved acquiring remaining rights to royalties and milestone payments on sales for type 2 diabetes drugs being developed by Depomed. This transaction revised an earlier agreement between the two companies. Although PDL is shifting away from these kinds of royalty agreements in favor of equity and product investments, the company liked the return on investment opportunity with the Depomed deal.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about PDL Biopharma is that the company's cash stockpile of nearly $396 million as of June 30, 2018 is greater than its market cap of around $344 million. PDL does have debt of around $121 million, but the stock's price-to-book ratio is still below 0.5. If the company can use its cash wisely, PDL could be worth a lot more than its current valuation.
Investors should keep in mind that all three of these stocks come with considerable risk. A decision by Johnson & Johnson to pass on imetelstat would cause Geron's share price to crater. Both Geron and Novavax could experience clinical setbacks. There's no guarantee that PDL Biopharma will be able to find investment opportunities that generate attractive returns. But for investors looking for stocks with low share prices, I think Geron, Novavax, and PDL Biopharma are worth checking out further.
Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and has the following options: short October 2018 $135 calls on Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.