Need a job in biotech? How about pharmaceutical sales? Affymax (NASDAQ:AFFY) is hiring. In fact, it is currently advertising for the following positions on its website: Sales Representative; Associate Director, Brand Marketing; Associate Director, Medical Education (Medical Affairs); Associate Director, R&D Applications; Bio/Pharma Sales Reporting Analyst; Clinical Support Specialists; Contract Statistical Programmer; Director, Drug Safety Operations; Director, Quality Assurance; District Sales Manager; Medical Science Liaison; Manager, Medical Affairs Publication Planning; Senior Sales Compensation Analyst.
As an investor, every piece of information on a prospective investment should be considered, and when I see a company ramping up its sales machine, I know instinctively things are about to happen. In the case of Affymax, it is anticipated that on March 27, 2012, the FDA will give its nod of approval on the company's kidney drug peginesatide.
Although there are no guarantees the greenlight will be given, there are some recent positive signs pointing to the drug becoming a reality, and the ramping of a sales force is one sign worth noting. The more important sign was given when the FDA's Advisory Panel recommended that the FDA approve the drug use in kidney dialysis back on December 7 of last year. However, recommendation and final approval don't always align in shareholders' favor.
Also, most analysts following the stock now have Buy ratings, with the latest coming from Joel Sendek of Stifel Nicolaus & Company, who put a $19 target on the stock, and Lazard Capital who put on a target of $20. Two StarMine top-ranked are also following the stock: Christopher Raymond of Robert W. Baird & Co. who has $13 target on the stock, and M Ian Somaiya of Piper Jaffray, who recently raised his target price from $17 to $19.
Interestingly enough, back in June of 2010, Thomas Weisel had a target of $31 on the stock, but downgraded it the same month due to approval concerns. Thomas Weisel was one of the co-underwriters of Affymax's IPO. My guess is that these targets mean something… Say, someone knows more than you and I do, for if the approval is not given, there will be several high-flying analysts eating crow, and their future credibility will be at stake.
Should the drug receive approval on March 27, the share price could easily blow through these targets to the upside, given the stock hit $13.20 per share Wednesday morning, March 21. However, given the recent near doubling in share price, the run-up could prove short-lived with a sell-off on the news. There are two strategies that could be deployed. Buy now, sell on initial run-up on the 27th, or wait for a pullback from the highs, and then buy for longer-term potential.
Speculators may wish to load up for the potential ride north. Conservative investors will want to steer clear. Should the drug not receive approval, the shares will most likely get hammered back to the $7 level.
Disclosure: I am long AFFY.