Monday, June 22, 2009

Sangamo Biosciences (NASDAQ:SGMO): Merriman believes SGMO shares should trade to a range of $10-11

Merriman Curhan Ford is out with a rather positive call on Sangamo Biosciences (NASDAQ:SGMO) reiterating their Buy rating and raising their target range from $5.50-6.50 to $10-11.

Firm believes Sangamo has the potential to be the leader in zinc finger applications both in the therapeutic arena and applications outside of the clinic. While the company’s diabetic neuropathy program is currently in question, they still believe in the therapeutic potential for the zinc finger platform. Additionally, partnerships with Dow Agro- Sciences and Sigma-Aldrich have the potential to provide Sangamo with future royalty streams and milestone payments. Merriman believes SGMO shares should trade to a range of $10-11.

Broad growth opportunity. Sangamo is now entering an interesting chapter in the company’s growth. They continue to believe that the zinc finger technology platform has a broad set of applications in both the therapeutic and non-therapeutic arenas. Firm believes investors are especially not assigning a fair value to the non-therapeutic potential of the zinc finger platform.

Clinical programs. The lead diabetic neuropathy SB-509 program has yielded quite a large dataset of clinically relevant data for a therapeutic indication with no other real treatment options at this point. Merriman sees the downside risk being minimal at this point for this program. Upside potential could come from a potential partner and more visibility on the path forward for a registration pathway. They believe investor excitement continues to grow around the SB-728 HIV program and could represent a transforming program for the company.

Dow AgroSciences (DAS) and Sigma-Aldrich (SA) continuing to gain key visibility in 2009. As part of the growing interest in the non-therapeutic applications of the zinc-finger platform, we expect increased visibility and value creation from the ongoing collaborations with DAS and SA in 2009 and going forward. Merriman believes these programs represent key potential revenue generators for Sangamo

Valuation. Firm reiterates their Buy rating and are raising target range from $5.50- 6.50 to $10-11. This change is based on what they believe to be the current status of the opportunities at Sangamo and currently see the therapeutic and non-therapeutic opportunities split ~50/50 with regard to contribution toward valuation.

Notablecalls: I'm sure that if you have been in this business long enough you have heard the jokes about John Merriman hiring only former quarterbacks as analysts.

Regardless of this, I think SGMO will see buying interesting following this call. It's a small biotech but unlike many of its peers, it's not that binary in nature.

I suspect the stock can trade up to $4.50-$4.80 following the call.

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