3 “Strong Buy” Micro-Cap Stocks That Offer Attractive Returns

If you are looking to hit a home run in the stock market, the NASDAQ Composite is a good place to start. The index is home to surging technology, internet, and biotech stocks. Despite the adverse effects from COVID-19, the index is up 25% over the past year, and recently hit a new all-time high. 

Now comes the hard part. How are investors supposed to determine which stocks are poised to take off? Will the current winners continue climbing, or will new high-flyers emerge? Finding the next big one is challenging to say the least. On top of this, there are numerous and sometimes conflicting investing strategies to consider.   

Bearing this in mind, Wall Street analysts can provide some inspiration. The experts possess extensive knowledge about the stocks they cover, and offer insights on compelling names that don’t always get the same attention as other heavyweights.  

To this end, we used TipRanks’ database to pinpoint three micro-cap stocks that have earned a “Strong Buy” consensus rating from the analyst community. Not to mention each boasts excellent upside potential. We’re talking about over 120% here. 

Immunic, Inc. (IMUX) 

The first stock on our list is New York-based Immunic, a pharmaceutical company developing drugs to treat chronic autoimmune, inflammatory and viral diseases, with its market cap landing at only $182.9 million.  

The company’s lead prospect is IMU-838, an orally-dosed DHODH (an enzyme in humans that is encoded by the DHODH gene on chromosome 16) inhibitor. IMU-838 is currently being tested in four Phase 2 studies for multiple indications including COVID-19. Other promising drugs that Immunic is developing include IMU-935, a treatment for autoimmune diseases and MU-856, a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders. 

On June 15, Immunic announced that the first patients in its Phase 2 CALVID-1 clinical trial of IMU-838 in COVID-19 had been dosed. Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Matthew Kaplan explained, “The CALVID-1 study is a prospective, multicenter (10-35 centers in Germany, USA, and half a dozen European countries), randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase 2 clinical trial in approximately 230 patients with moderate COVID-19, and will evaluate efficacy, safety, and tolerability of IMU-838.”  

The development marked an important milestone in advancing the candidate. Commenting on this, Kaplan stated, “An interim analysis is planned after 200 patients have completed treatment, which could lead to an expansion to a confirmatory Phase 3 trial with an adaptive trial design…We are encouraged by the preclinical data and clinical plan and look forward to future updates.” 

Speaking to the strength of Immunic’s other possible catalysts, Kaplan noted, “We also believe the earlier stage pipeline programs (IMU-935 and IMU-856) provide for significant additional potential upside.” 

Based on all of the above, Kaplan reiterated his Buy recommendation. He also has a $50 price target on the stock, which indicates significant upside potential of 307%. (To watch Kaplan’s track record, click here

All in all, other analysts agree with Kaplan. 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. Meanwhile, the $51 average price target, which is more aggressive than Kaplan’s, represents a huge 315% potential increase from the share price of $12.30. (See Immunic stock analysis on TipRanks

Benefytt Technologies, Inc. (BFYT) 

Next up we have Benefytt Technologies, (previously called Health Insurance Innovations, Inc.) which sells a range of Medicare-related health insurance plans as well as other health and life insurance products.  

Last year, management made a strategic shift towards targeting Medicare dollars rather than individual and family plans. Consequently, the company, which has a market cap of $310.8 million, is navigating its way through a transition year, negatively affecting its operating performance. In the first quarter of 2020, revenue fell to $71.6 million, from $87.3 million in the prior-year quarter.  

That said, a closer look at the results reveals a bright spot. Revenue from Benefytt’s Medicare segment, which is new to the company since June 2019, came in at $18.9 million. Management plans to grow the Medicare segment to between $190 million to $210 million in the coming year. 

Five-star analyst from Cantor Fitzgerald, Steven Halper, shares the company’s optimistic view. “We continue to believe the company is taking the necessary steps to grow its Medicare business. It still expects 2020 Medicare revenue to be $190-210 million,” he commented. 

Pointing to Benefytt’s stock price, the five-star analyst said, “We have made some modest changes to our estimates but our price target remains at $75. Either way, we believe the shares are compelling at current levels.”  

To this end, Halper has an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating on the stock. His $75 price target suggests hefty upside potential of 244%. (To watch Halper’s track record, click here)   

Turning to the rest of the Street, other analysts are on the same page. 5 Buys and no Holds or Sells have been issued in the last three months, so BFYT gets a Strong Buy consensus rating. The average price target is $47.30, which implies sizable upside potential of 117%. (See Benefytt stock analysis on TipRanks

Scorpio Bulkers (SALT) 

Last but not least is Scorpio Bulkers, an international shipping company that provides marine transportation for dry bulk commodities such as coal, grains, and fertilizers. At $181.1 million, its market cap is the smallest on our list. 

It has been a trying period for Scorpio Bulkers shareholders. The company’s shares have significantly underperformed the broader market, plunging 76% year-to-date, compared to a 3% loss for the S&P 500. Nevertheless, BTIG analyst Gregory Lewis believes the stock is ripe for a bounce. In a recent research report, he noted, “The company has prepared itself for the enacted IMO 2020 fuel regulation by installing scrubbers on its fleet which should provide above market earnings and a way for investors to capture dislocations in the marine bunker fuel market.” 

Further adding to the analyst’s bullish sentiment, Lewis sees several upcoming catalysts that are set to bolster shipping rates and profitability. These include countries reopening their economies and undertaking a restocking cycle, and governments employing stimulus programs to jump-start their economies.  

In line with his optimistic take, Lewis rates the stock a Buy and maintains a $40 price target, which translates to substantial upside potential of 164%. (To watch Lewis’ track record, click here)   

Do other analysts on the Street agree with Lewis? Yes, they do. The consensus rating is a Strong Buy, based on 5 Buys and 1 Hold. The average price target of $34.17 implies meaningful upside potential of 126%. (See Scorpio Bulkers stock analysis on TipRanks)

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