Shares of Ziopharm Oncology (ZIOP -15.15%) had sank 10.2% as of 11:26 a.m. EST on Friday. The drop came after Jefferies downgraded the stock from buy to hold and lowered its one-year price target to $5.
There's both good news and bad news with this latest downgrade. Jefferies analyst Chris Howerton isn't as optimistic about Ziopharm's near-term prospects as he's been in the past. But he still sees at least some upward potential for the biotech stock. His price target reflects a 14% premium over its current share price.
Ziopharm has been through a lot of upheaval in recent months. Activist investor WaterMill Asset Management forced changes in the company's board of directors and management.
But the company has given investors reasons to be optimistic. Perhaps most important, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for Ziopharm to initiate phase 1/2 clinical studies evaluating its experimental T-cell receptor-engineered T cell (TCR-T) therapies.
The most important thing for Ziopharm shareholders to look forward to is the enrollment of patients in the clinical study of TCR-T therapies, which will begin in the second half of 2021. The company could also name a new CEO to take the place of interim CEO Heidi Hagen in the not-too-distant future.