4 under-the-radar stocks rising 319% to 645% in 2022, according to Wall Street

Although the stock market suffered its biggest correction in more than a year, investors enjoyed a historic rebound from pandemic lows in March 2020. It took less than 17 months for the broad base S&P500 double in value. By comparison, the benchmark has returned closer to 11% per year, including dividends, since 1980.

But even with these big gains for the broader market, some stocks may be just getting started. Based on the highest price target issued by Wall Street analysts and investment banks, the following four under-the-radar stocks have the potential to skyrocket between 319% and 645% in 2022.

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Ocugen: implicit increase of 408%

The first stock with high upside potential, at least according to one analyst, is the clinical-stage biotech stock Ocugene (NASDAQ:OCGN). According to Noble Financial’s Robert LeBoyer, Ocugen can reach $15 per share, which would be more than five times the company’s stock price, based on its Jan. 27 close.

Ocugen’s potential claim to fame and wealth is its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine, Covaxin. Covaxin was developed by India’s Bharat Biotech, and it gave a respectable 78% vaccine efficacy (VE) in a clinical study of 25,800 patients. Covaxin was also given the green light for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) in early November. With so many people to be vaccinated around the world, there is ample room for multiple vaccines to develop.

But there is a very big problem for the future of Ocugen. The company has signed a commercialization agreement with Bharat Biotech that only covers the United States and Canada. This means that the WHO giving the green light to Covaxin will not put a dime in the pockets of Ocugen. Although the United States and Canada are very lucrative markets for pharmaceuticals, there are already a number of well-established COVID-19 players in the United States and Canada. It is unclear whether a vaccine offering 78% VE will even be needed.

Unless Ocugen can obtain emergency use authorization in these two markets, it probably has no chance of getting closer to LeBoyer’s price target.

Lab technician examining a prescription drug capsule.

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Vaxart: implied increase of 319%

Another under-the-radar stock that could fly in 2022, assuming Wall Street is right, is the clinical-stage drug developer vaxart (NASDAQ: VXRT). Piper Sandler analyst Yasmeen Rahimi expects Vaxart to hit $18 per share, which would be a strong 319% upside from its close a few days earlier.

Vaxart has two base catalysts that essentially merge into one. First, it has its proprietary technology known as “Vector-Adjuvant-Antigen Standardized Technology”, or VAAST. While most vaccine-based drugs provide a clear systemic response, Vaxart attempts to leverage VAAST to create oral treatments that elicit a systemic response and mucosal immunity. In other words, his therapies would offer potentially greater protection against airborne viruses.

The second catalyst is the development of an oral COVID-19 treatment. Last year, preliminary data from Vaxart on its oral COVID-19 therapy showed mixed results. Although it produced a noticeable immune response, the level of neutralizing antibodies was considerably lower in pill form compared to traditional vaccines.

Vaxart’s plan of attack, so to speak, is to target a specific protein with its mid-point assay. While an oral COVID-19 treatment would be a game-changer from a distribution perspective, we still seem a long way from having anything definitive on pharmacy shelves.

A lab researcher using a pipette to take liquid samples.

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Intercept Pharmaceuticals: implied increase of 468%

Interestingly, Vaxart isn’t the only biotech stock Rahimi sees soaring in 2022. The Piper Sandler analyst also has an $82 price target on the drug developer focused on liver disease. Intercept pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CIPT). If Intercept reached $82 this year, it would mark a 468% increase from its current level.

The biggest catalyst that makes or breaks Rahimi’s case is obeticholic acid (OCA), a late-stage treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a liver disease that affects between 2% and 5% of all American adults and is characterized by liver fibrosis that can lead to cancer and even death. There’s no cure for NASH, but it’s a $35 billion untapped opportunity for drugmakers.

Nearly three years ago, Intercept released data from its late-stage Regenerate trial, which examined OCA in patients with NASH. Although the study achieved one of its two primary endpoints – a statistically significant reduction in liver fibrosis without worsening NASH – patients in the highest dose group (the most effective group) showed a large increase in pruritus (itching) and discontinuations of the trial, compared to the placebo arm. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has elected to issue a full response letter to Intercept requesting additional testing and safety data on OCA.

Within the next two months, Intercept is expected to release data from its Phase 3 Reverse study in patients with compensated cirrhosis due to NASH. The data from this study should allow Intercept to resubmit its New Drug Application to the FDA. Even if OCA is only approved for a small subset of patients, it could offer a billion dollar sales potential. But hitting $82 this year might be a bit too much to ask.

A lab technician using a pipette to place a liquid sample under a high powered microscope.

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Bionano Genomics: implicit increase of 645%

But the mountain of opportunity on the upside, at least for this list of under-the-radar stocks, belongs to the genome analysis company Bionano Genomics (NASDAQ: BNGO). According to analyst Kevin DeGeeter of OppenheimerBionano could rebound to $14, implying a 645% upside!

The excitement around Bionano Genomics began just over a year ago when the company released numerous press releases and studies showcasing its optical genome mapping (OGM) system known as Saphyr. For example, a study, published in December 2020, showed that Saphyr was better at identifying large structural variations in the genome than a similar GMO system developed by Pacific Biosciences. Besides being more efficient, it was also the cheaper of the two.

What Saphyr brings to the table is potentially licensable technology that drug developers could use to better target genetic variations in hard-to-treat diseases. Assuming Bionano can generate licensing revenue, this incoming capital, along with dilutive stock sales, should provide enough cash for the company to grow its Saphyr use case.

On the other hand, it could be years before Saphyr gets the green light from the FDA. Without this proverbial green light, it could be difficult for Bionano Genomics to secure revenue-generating research/licensing agreements.

Having fallen well from its highs, Bionano intrigues long-term investors with a high tolerance for risk and reward. But hitting $14 in 2022 is not something I would expect without FDA approval.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a high-end advice service Motley Fool. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and wealthier.

Garland K. Long