Why Agenus Inc. Is Flying High Today

By Brian FeroldiFool.com

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What:After receiving an upgrade from an investment firm, shares of Agenus , a small-cap biotechnology company focused primarily on immuno-oncology, rose by as much as 10% today in afternoon trading.

So what: The Maxim Group lifted their rating on Agenus' stock earlier today, calling the shares a "buy," from their prior rating of "hold." The firm also set a $7 price target, which, if correct, indicates that there is huge upside from its current $4 share price.

At least one insider appears to agree that the stock is undervalued right now -- earlier this week, it was reported that Agenus CEO Armen Garo purchased an additional 200,000 shares for just over $4 per share.

Now what: Even after factoring in today's pop, shareholders of this stock have had a rough couple of months, as the stock is down more than 58% from its summertime highs.

On the plus side, it looks like Agenus is in decent financial shape. In September, the company raised $78 million through a non-dilutive sale of its royalty rights on future sales of GlaxoSmithKline's shingles and malaria vaccine products that use Agenus' QS-21 adjuvant technology. There could be additional upside from that transaction, too, as Agenus could be entitled to another $15 million from the deal if GlaxoSmithKline's shingles vaccine wins regulatory approval before June 30, 2018. The two companies plan to work toward a regulatory filing in the second half of the year.

When added to the proceeds from Agenus' common offering in May, the company ended the year with more than $171 million in cash on its books, which it believes should be enough to run itself through the first half of next year. That number could stretch even further if GlaxoSmithKline can successfully commercialized its shingles vaccine.

Looking ahead, the company has a busy year planned as it has announced plans to push several of its preclinical compounds into trials throughout the year, which includes two of its checkpoint modulator antibodies,AGEN1884 andINCAGN1876.

All in all, Agenus' stock offers investors an interesting pipeline that holds a lot of potential, but like any other money-losing biotech, the company's stock isn't for the faint of heart.

The article Why Agenus Inc. Is Flying High Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

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