Verve, Legend gain as BMO initiates as top picks in biotech

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The shares of Legend Biotech (LEGN) and Verve Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VERV) are on the rise in the morning hours Friday after BMO Capital Markets initiated their coverage, categorizing the biotech firms as its top picks.

As reasons for the classification, the analyst Kostas Biliouris highlights Verve’s (VERV) leadership, its potentially multi-billion-dollar commercial opportunities, and the differentiated gene-editing approach backed by compelling data.

Issuing an Outperform rating and a $48 per share target on Verve (VERV), Biliouris argues that the company’s gene-editing approach was found to have robust efficacy in preclinical studies with a mechanism that appeared safer than first-gen techniques.

Meanwhile, Biliouris lists the commercial prospects of Legend’s (LEGN) multiple myeloma therapy Carvykti, its upcoming data readouts in earlier lines, and the company’s diversified pipeline as reasons for the top pick.

“Continuous expansion of Carvykti addressable population through approvals in earlier lines and ex-US regions will fuel additional growth, driving long-term value,” the analyst wrote with an Outperform rating and a $77 per share target on the stock.

Carvykti is a CAR-T therapy jointly developed and commercialized by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Legend (LEGN).

The FDA-approved therapy was granted conditional marketing authorization for certain patients with multiple myeloma in Europe, Legend (LEGN) announced last month.