Each of these biotech stocks has more than tripled year to date and could still have plenty of room to run.

How long does it take stocks to double? The S&P 500 index has delivered an average annual return of around 10%. That translates to roughly seven years for the index to double.

But some stocks can double in much less time. Quite a few coronavirus-focused stocks have at least doubled so far this year. These three coronavirus stocks have more than tripled year to date and might more than double again by the end of 2020.

1. Vaxart

You won’t find many stocks that have outperformed Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) this year. Its shares have skyrocketed more than 2,000%, fueled by investors’ excitement about the company’s oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Vaxart stock really took off in late June. That’s when its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was selected to be included in a nonhuman primate challenge study funded by Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government program created to accelerate the development of coronavirus vaccines.

But Vaxart’s meteoric rise might be just getting started. The company announced on Monday that the Food and Drug Administration gave it a green light to initiate a phase 1 clinical study of its oral COVID-19 vaccine. Vaxart expects to begin enrollment this month. If the early stage trial goes well, don’t be surprised if its shares shoot up at least another 100% before 2021 rolls around.

2. Altimmune

Altimmune (NASDAQ:ALT) has delivered a year-to-date gain of more than 600%. The biotech stock was up by a whopping 1,400% by mid-July before it completed a $132 million public offering.

Like Vaxart, Altimmune’s appeal stemmed in large part from its unique COVID-19 vaccine candidate. In July, the company announced positive preclinical results for experimental intranasal coronavirus vaccine AdCOVID. Altimmune’s pipeline also includes another candidate targeting treatment of outpatients with early stage COVID-19, intranasal immune modulator T-COVID.

What could possibly cause Altimmune’s shares to double or more by the end of this year? In the fourth quarter, the company expects to report results from a phase 1/2 study of T-COVID that’s being funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. Altimmune also hopes to advance AdCOVID into phase 1 clinical testing in humans in Q4.

3. Inovio

Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:INO) shares have risen close to 240% so far in 2020. By late June, the stock was up by nearly 850%. However, Inovio gave up much of its big gain after announcing interim phase 1 results for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, INO-4800.

Those results weren’t bad. In fact, Inovio reported that 94% of the phase 1 study participants demonstrated overall immune responses after two doses of INO-4800. The investigational vaccine also appeared to be well-tolerated, with no serious adverse events. The problem was that industry observers wanted more details about immune responses than Inovio provided.

Don’t count Inovio out, though. The biotech has submitted a paper detailing its phase 1 results for peer review and expects publication in the coming weeks. Inovio awaits FDA clearance to begin phase 2/3 trials in the U.S., which it anticipates receiving in the near future. CEO Joseph Kim also recently stated that the company is “very confident” it will be able to line up external funding for its phase 2/3 studies.

Buyer beware

All three of these stocks have already hit peaks in recent months that reflect upside of more than 100%. Positive news for their respective COVID-19 programs could enable any or all of them to regain earlier levels and at least double by the end of 2020.

While Vaxart, Altimmune, and Inovio could all be huge winners, though, the stocks are also very risky. None has an approved product yet. Their fortunes rest largely on their COVID-19 programs, although all three biotechs also have other pipeline candidates. There’s a significant possibility that any of these companies could experience major clinical setbacks.

Author: Keith Speights

Source: Fool: These 3 Coronavirus Stocks Could More Than Double by the End of 2020

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