Despite all of Wall Street's conflict and contention, a fortunate few companies enjoy unanimous support among professional analysts. If the market's movers and shakers all believe these companies will beat the long-term averages, well, surely they will -- right?

Not so fast! With help from Motley Fool CAPS, the 180,000 member-driven investor community that translates informed opinion into stock ratings of one to five stars, we'll see whether these high-flying favorites deserve analysts' unwavering support.

Today, we'll take a look at biotech Galena Biopharma (NASDAQ:GALE), whose breast cancer therapy is in late-stage clinical trials. Among the analysts that CAPS tracks, only two have weighed in so far on the company, which has no products on the market, but they feel confident it will successfully navigate through the Food and Drug Administration gauntlet. Yet our investor community isn't nearly as supportive: While 87% rate the biotech to outperform the broad market averages, its low two-star CAPS rating suggests they think there are better places for your money.

Let's see why Wall Street might be betting with Galena and how come the CAPS community thinks differently.

Galena Biopharma snapshot

Market Cap $138 million

Revenues (TTM)

$0.0 million

1-Year Stock Return


Return on Investment


Estimated 5-Year EPS Growth


Dividend and Yield


Recent Price


No. of Analysts


CAPS Rating (out of 5)


Source: N/A = not available; Galena doesn't pay a dividend.

But just because Wall Street loves it doesn't mean you have to. Analyst sentiment is only just the jumping-off place for your own research.

All signs point forward
Herceptin is a $1.8 billion blockbuster cancer treatment for Roche, which licenses it through its Genentech subsidiary from PDL BioPharma (NASDAQ:PDLI). The drug has been so effective that it's under study for use in other formulations, such as with ImmunoGen's (NASDAQ:IMGN) antibody conjugate technology that Roche is putting through phase 3 trials. Its data shows it's more effective than the current second-line therapy of GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE:GSK) Tykerb with Roche's Xeloda.

This is key to Galena's NeuVax therapy because Herceptin validates the HER2 receptor -- a protein that turns cancer cells "on" -- as a target. NeuVax trains an individual's immune system cells called T-cells to attack and kill those the exhibit the HER2 protein. Through early and mid-stage studies, the vaccine has responded well to low and intermediate levels of HER2 expression, and should it make it through to FDA approval, Galena could have a big blockbuster of its own on its hands.

Off the cliff?
Though not everyone agrees with that assessment. Adam Feuerstein over at TheStreet has scathingly predicted NeuVax and Galena will fail dramatically in the same way that Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:KERX) did with perifosine. He finds it incongruous that NeuVax would respond well only to cells with low to medium expression of HER2, but not to those with very high levels.

In its earlier studies, Galena apparently discovered this dichotomy, so its late-stage study is focusing on those areas where NeuVax performed well. Feuerstein calls that data mining, and he believes that larger pharmaceuticals like Roche have previously vetted the vaccine when it was owned by Apthera before being bought by Galena.

I'm not schooled enough in the nuances of the science to know for certain whether Galena is cherry-picking data as alleged, or whether it's simply following where the science leads it. That's why for the most part I avoid investing in biotechs, also because the FDA can be a very mercurial master, doling out approvals or complete response letters willy-nilly regardless of what its advisory panels advise.

So, you tell me in the comments box below whether you think Galena has a good shot of getting NeuVax through the regulatory labyrinth, or is it, as Feuerstein declares, setting up investors for a terrible fall.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend GlaxoSmithKline, ImmunoGen, and PDL BioPharma. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.