Biotech company Ocugen (OCGN -20.28%) looks to be in an endless tailspin these days. Not only has its share price been cut in half in 2022, but over the past 12 months its value has crumbled to just one-fifth of what it was this time last year. The hype and excitement has left the stock as the bears appear to be out in full force.
Hope may not be entirely gone, but it's certainly fleeting for this once-promising growth stock. The company recently announced some positive news that could bring in revenue for its business this year. Can Ocugen turn things around and become a good investment for your portfolio, or is it simply too late to consider the stock?
Expansion of Covaxin commercialization rights
On April 18, Ocugen announced it had obtained the rights in Mexico to commercialize Covaxin, the COVID-19 vaccine it is co-developing with India-based Bharat Biotech. Ocugen had previously obtained such rights in Canada and the U.S. However, unlike those countries where Covaxin is not yet approved, Mexico has authorized it under emergency use. This paves the way for Ocugen to at least generate some revenue from the vaccine.
However, with 10 vaccines that are approved for use in Mexico, it won't be an easy market in which to generate significant market share. And investors need to remember that under its deals to commercialize Covaxin, Ocugen will only share in the profit that the vaccine generates. So while this is positive news for the company, it may not necessarily generate significant revenue. In the press release announcing the deal, Ocugen offered no forecast or detail as to how much it might make as a result of securing commercialization rights to the Mexican market.
Without COVID-19 revenue, the stock is just another risky biotech
Ocugen isn't a hopeless company, but what made the stock popular a year ago was the excitement relating to its potential to generate revenue from a COVID-19 vaccine. Even if Covaxin obtains approval in Canada or the U.S., the potential to make much of a dent in those markets is much more limited than it would have been if it occurred a year ago when vaccination rates were much lower. Today, two-thirds of Americans are fully vaccinated while Canada's vaccination rate is among the highest in the world at 82%. In Mexico, the percentage of people fully vaccinated is a bit lower at 61%.
Without significant COVID-19 revenue, all that's left is a company with a pipeline that isn't very far along. OCU400, Ocugen's gene therapy treatment to treat retinal degeneration, is the furthest along in phase 1/2 trials right now. It could still be years before it generates any revenue from that treatment, assuming it passes successfully through all its clinical trials, which is by no means a guarantee.
Is Ocugen worth investing in today?
It's hard to say that Ocugen's decline has made the stock less risky, because this is still a business that generated no revenue in 2021. And its operating cash burn of $47.9 million over the past year was half of the cash and equivalents that the company reported as of Dec. 31 ($95 million). It suggests that more stock offerings will be necessary to keep the business going, which will likely pull its shares down even lower as that happens.
For now, at least, it appears the ship has sailed for Ocugen. It's extremely unlikely for the stock to get back to anywhere near last year's highs of $17.65, simply because investors have been moving away from volatile COVID-19 stocks. Even if Ocugen starts generating revenue as a result of profits that Covaxin generates in Mexico this year, that may not be enough to make the stock a good buy.
Ocugen is too risky a stock to invest in today, even with the positive news it received of late. Investors are better off looking at other growth stocks that are safer, long-term buys.