Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) has become the top “must-own” coronavirus stocks.
The last time I weighed in on the stock, it traded at $4.86. That was on Jan. 30. Now, more than a month later, shares of Inovio are up to $13.32.
The best part is that the stock shows no signs of falling apart any time soon. All thanks to news it accelerated its timeline for the development of its SAR-CoV2 vaccine with human trials expected to begin by April 2020.
Better, President Donald Trump just signed an $8.3 billion emergency bill into law in an effort to combat the virus. There’s speculation Inovio could see some of those funds.
As we hear more, I wouldn’t be shocked to see shares of INO closer to $20 a share.
Global Coronavirus Cases Just Passed 100,000
At the moment, the total number of cases now stands at 100,055, with the majority of the cases in China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. More than 3,300 have now died. In the U.S. alone, there have been 12 deaths to date.
In New York, more than 2,500 people were told to “self-quarantine,” says CNN contributor Christina Maxouris. More than 9,700 returning travelers were told to stay home and monitor their health in California, with Gov. Gavin Newsom declaring a state of emergency.
And according to a former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the country has confirmed only a fraction of the total number of virus cases. “We still don’t have anywhere near full visibility on total cases in the U.S. because of the testing shortfalls,” Jeremy Konyndyk said. “What we’re seeing so far in terms of official case numbers in the U.S. is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”
At the same time, the World Health Organization issued a plea for every country to pull out “all the stops” to test large numbers of people, and control outbreaks.
Inovio to Begin Human Trials by April 2020
According to the company, the first clinical trials will begin in April 2020 with 30 human volunteers in the U.S.:
We plan to begin human clinical trials in the US in April and soon thereafter in China and South Korea, where the outbreak is impacting the most people. We plan on delivering one million doses by year-end with existing resources and capacity. However, we will need additional resources to scale up to make enough doses to help protect Americans from Covid-19 as well as to lead global efforts to curtail this virus.
Analysts are just as bullish. H.C. Wainwright’s Ram Selvaraju reiterated a “buy” rating with a $13 price target. Selvaraju stated:
We find it impressive that Inovio first designed INO-4800 on January 10, within three hours of receiving the viral genetic sequence, and managed to complete preclinical studies and manufacture 3,000 human trial doses in roughly three months […] we believe INO-4800 could be ready for a Phase 2 trial and available for emergency use by the end of 2020.
The Bottom Line on Inovio Stock
As the world races for a coronavirus vaccine, Inovio remains one of the top “must own” stocks. If it sees success in human trials and can begin delivery of its vaccine this year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see shares of INO closer to $20 a share.
Ian Cooper, an InvestorPlace.com contributor, has been analyzing stocks and options for web-based advisories since 1999. As of this writing, Ian Cooper did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.