The healthcare sector has gotten off to a blistering start in 2019. However, the sector's nearly two-month-long rally has started to cool off in the last few trading sessions, perhaps representing a great entry point for long-term-oriented investors.
With this recent dip in mind, we asked three of our Motley Fool contributors which healthcare stocks they think are worth buying right now. They suggested Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC 4.38%), MyoKardia (MYOK), and Blueprint Medicines (BPMC 5.10%). Here's why.
Buy the dip
George Budwell (Canopy Growth Corporation): After a red-hot start to the new year, Canada's largest pot company, Canopy Growth, has seen its shares retreat by nearly 6% since the release of its third-quarter earnings roughly a week ago. What's behind this sharp reversal?
Canopy's shares are giving back some of their stately gains for two core reasons:
- Today, the company had to restate a key financial metric from last week's earnings report due to a minor spreadsheet error, sending its shares southward.
- Canopy's shares also appear to be reacting negatively to the news that a new fermentation technology might undermine dried flower and cannabis extract prices in the not-so-distant future.
All that being said, investors may want to look past these two headwinds to consider buying some shares on this pullback. After all, this top dog of the cannabis space hasn't been hit by any major scandals of its own, and this financial typo doesn't exactly change the company's underlying fundamentals or growth outlook. In addition, cannabis enthusiasts will probably remain loyal to naturally grown products in the long run -- even if cheaper, synthetic versions become widely available.
Getting to the heart of the matter
Chuck Saletta (MyoKardia): When it comes to biotech research, much of the effort is focused on cancer and genetic issues like sickle cell disease or diabetes. Not nearly as much attention has been focused on the body's mechanical systems, like the heart. With its mission to "discover, develop, and commercialize targeted therapies for the treatment of serious and neglected rare cardiovascular diseases," MyoKardia is bringing much-needed research to that space.
Its lead research candidate, Mavacamten, is in phase 3 clinical trials for a condition known as obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. People with this disease have had their heart muscle thicken, which makes it much more difficult for their heart to pump blood through their system. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, around 1 adult in 500 has some form of the disease.
That frequency makes it common enough so that a good treatment is certainly worth researching and discovering, yet by MyoKardia's own admission, the field has been fairly well neglected. Treatments are generally nonspecific like beta blockers and calcium channel blockers and don't directly address the core issues with the heart. Mavacamten is designed to affect the proteins in the heart that are at the root of the disease, providing hope for a true treatment.
The available preliminary data on the drug looks solid, giving reason to believe the treatment may ultimately be approved and effective for patients. Phase 3 results are expected in the second half of 2020, with the potential approval coming after that.
What makes MyoKardia worth considering as a potential investment today is that its shares are trading near a 52-week low, giving investors more for their money than they would have gotten earlier. Its business is currently unprofitable, making it still a higher-risk investment, but that could change if Mavacamten delivers on its promise of a legitimate treatment for obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
It could be a big year for this biotech
Todd Campbell (Blueprint Medicines): Blueprint Medicines is developing precision drugs targeting specific cancer mutations. It expects data that could support a filing for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of its first drug, avapritinib, by midyear.
Avapritinib inhibits KIT and PDGFRA, two protein kinases that can fuel gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and systematic mastocytosis (SM) in tens of thousands of patients.
Data from an early-stage SM trial showed an 83% overall response rate to avapritinib, and interim results in advanced GIST showed an overall response rate of 86%. Additional GIST data that's expected in the coming months could support a new drug application for PDGFRA mutation patients by June, while a separate trial could support a filing for use in third-line GIST patients in 2020. Results from a trial in advanced SM could clear the way for an application in that indication in 2020, too.
Blueprint's also working on BLU-667, a possible treatment for RET-altered lung cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, and other solid-tumor cancers. An application for FDA approval of that drug could also be on tap in 2020.
There's no guarantee these drugs will pan out, but if they do, the company could have a shot at significant sales, because the market for existing, less-selective kinase inhibitors totals more than $25 billion per year.
The company hasn't licensed the rights to avapritinib yet, but it may not need to. It has $558 million in cash exiting September, and it can collect up to $965 million in milestone payments from a collaboration deal it has with Roche Holdings (RHHBY 0.93%) on the development of up to five to-be-determined cancer drugs.
Overall, precision, targeted treatment appears to be the future of medicine, and given the near-term catalysts, I think Blueprint Medicines is worth taking a chance on.
Check out the latest Blueprint Medicines earnings call transcript.