As Covaxin Catalyst Fades, Stay Away From Ocugen Stock

Ocugen’s (NASDAQ:OCGN) chances of finding success with its Covid-19 vaccine candidate Covaxin have continued to drop. So, too, has the price of OCGN stock. Trading for around $7 per share when I last wrote about it, today it’s around $4.90 per share.

OCGN stock: hands of medical professional holding a syringe, symbolizing vaccine
Source: shutterstock.com/PhotobyTawat

Now, not all of its recent slide can be chalked up to disappointment with its vaccine catalyst. The uncertainties that threw the market for a loop after Thanksgiving have likely played a role in its decline, as well.

But no matter the reason, I wouldn’t bank on a rebound. Sure, this vaccine candidate (developed in India by Bharat Biotech) has found success overseas, and has received an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization. Unfortunately though, none of that means a thing to Ocugen. The company only has marketing rights for the U.S. and Canada. So far, it’s made little progress bringing the vaccine to either market.

News of one of its older pipeline candidates may be helping to give shares some support. Yet I wouldn’t expect this secondary catalyst to save the day. Best case scenario, it’s just something that prevents it from experiencing a full collapse. As its chances of generating a large amount of revenue from Covaxin continue to dim, count on shares heading even lower from here.

The Latest With OCGN Stock

Several factors likely played a role in sending Ocugen shares lower in recent weeks. One company-specific factor that’s noteworthy is news of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) putting a clinical hold on its Investigational New Drug application (IND) for Covaxin.

Why is this a negative for OCGN stock? It extends this candidate’s approval timeline. The longer the wait, the more likely its potential market dries up as Americans decide to get one of the already-approved vaccines. Or, given how U.S. President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate appears likely to stay in limbo, some may decide not to get a vaccine at all.

While the company’s Covaxin catalyst continues to become more of a longshot, hope and hype hasn’t completely vanished. But it likely won’t stay that way. Based on how past developments have played out, I would expect more bad news or disappointment regarding its efforts to secure FDA approval.

As the bad news continues, a constant move to low single digits remains most likely. Some may believe the company’s secondary catalyst could be something that could save the day. However, I wouldn’t count on that happening.

Why OCU-400 Progress Will, at Best, Just Soften The Blow

Delays in getting its IND application approved for Covaxin may be putting pressure on OCGN stock. But as InvestorPlace’s Shrey Dua reported Dec. 10, it’s not having issues with another one of its IND applications. That is, the FDA has given it the go-ahead for its IND for OCU-400. OCU-400 is a gene-therapy developed to treat degenerative eye diseases.

This green light from the agency will enable Ocugen to begin clinical trials for the candidate. Although not helping to shoot shares back to double-digit prices, this news may be something that’s helping it hold steady for now at around $5 per share.

However, like I hinted at above, don’t count on this continuing to save the day for OCGN stock. Why? Progress with OCU-400 means something. But it’s not enough to sustain the company’s current market cap of $981.94 million if the Covaxin catalyst continues to fade. If its current main catalyst dissipates, leaving OCU-400 to become its main catalyst, how low could shares drop?

Maybe not to the sub-$1 per share prices they were fetching for most of 2019 and 2020. Perhaps OCU-400’s potential will be enough to send it back to between $2 and $3 per share, which it traded for during 2018. Still, that’s hardly a reason to buy. The prospect of it bottoming out at $3 per share rather than below $1 per share is cold comfort for investors who paid $5, $10, or even as much as the 52-week high of $18.77 per share for it.

Bottom Line on Ocugen

The odds for Ocugen’s Covaxin catalyst have failed to improve in recent weeks. Since it’s very unlikely to sell the 100 million doses it initially intended to sell stateside, it’s only a matter of time before investors stop factoring this potential into its stock price.

More progress with OCU-400 may prevent shares from making a full trip back to below $1 per share. But will this secondary catalyst, at best, minimize losses, rather than pave a way for a rebound? Buying it at today’s prices due to this reason makes little sense.

With its Covid-19 vaccine catalyst vanishing, the best move hasn’t changed with OCGN stock — avoid it.

On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Thomas Niel, a contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.


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