Shares of Vir Biotechnology (VIR 1.03%) were soaring 18.5% as of 11:08 a.m. ET on Tuesday. The big gain came after H.C. Wainwright analyst Patrick Trucchio boosted his price target on Vir from $135 to $200. He maintained his buy rating on the stock.
Several analysts are bullish about Vir's prospects. But Wainwright's Trucchio is the most optimistic by far about the biotech stock. What's behind his enthusiasm?
Trucchio singled out the emergence of the omicron variant as one top factor. He believes that there's a good chance that the coronavirus could become endemic -- here to stay. If that happens, the demand for antibody therapies would likely increase.
That could be an ideal scenario for Vir. The company and its partner GlaxoSmithKline have won authorizations or approvals for monoclonal antibody therapy sotrovimab in more than a dozen countries so far, including the U.S.
Could Trucchio be overly exuberant about Vir's prospects? Sure. However, even if he is, the stock could still be a big winner. The consensus Wall Street price target for the stock (not incorporating Trucchio's higher target) reflects an upside potential of more than 40%.
Investors should especially watch the progress of clinical studies evaluating sotrovimab as a COVID-19 prophylaxis. But the monoclonal antibody therapy isn't the only potential growth driver for Vir. The company expects to report results in the first half of 2022 from a phase 2 study of a combination therapy that could be a functional cure for chronic hepatitis B virus infection.