Ionis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IONS) and Agenus (NASDAQ:AGEN) are both medical companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, valuation, institutional ownership, risk, dividends, earnings and analyst recommendations.

Risk and Volatility

Ionis Pharmaceuticals has a beta of 3.12, suggesting that its share price is 212% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Agenus has a beta of 2.15, suggesting that its share price is 115% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current ratings and recommmendations for Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Agenus, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Ionis Pharmaceuticals 2 6 6 0 2.29
Agenus 0 1 3 0 2.75

Ionis Pharmaceuticals presently has a consensus price target of $49.62, indicating a potential downside of 8.15%. Agenus has a consensus price target of $6.33, indicating a potential upside of 69.79%. Given Agenus’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Agenus is more favorable than Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Agenus’ gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Ionis Pharmaceuticals $485.73 million 13.83 $80.88 million $0.21 257.25
Agenus $41.19 million 9.03 -$92.05 million ($1.27) -2.94

Ionis Pharmaceuticals has higher revenue and earnings than Agenus. Agenus is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ionis Pharmaceuticals, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Profitability

This table compares Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Agenus’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Ionis Pharmaceuticals 5.25% 15.52% 2.59%
Agenus -280.96% N/A -65.05%

Insider and Institutional Ownership

89.2% of Ionis Pharmaceuticals shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 39.6% of Agenus shares are held by institutional investors. 2.1% of Ionis Pharmaceuticals shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 7.9% of Agenus shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Summary

Ionis Pharmaceuticals beats Agenus on 10 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Ionis Pharmaceuticals

Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is engaged in discovering and developing ribonucleic acid (RNA)-targeted therapeutics. The Company, using its drug discovery platform, has developed a pipeline of drugs for patients with unmet medical needs. The Company’s segments include Ionis Core and Akcea Therapeutics. In the Ionis Core segment, the Company is engaged in exploiting a drug discovery platform to generate a pipeline of drugs for the Company and its partners. The Akcea Therapeutics segment includes the operations of the Company’s subsidiary, Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. (Akcea Therapeutics). Akcea Therapeutics is focused on developing and commercializing volanesorsen and other clinical-stage drugs for serious cardiometabolic diseases caused by lipid disorders. The Company is developing volanesorsen to treat two severe and rare, genetically defined diseases, familial chylomicronemia (FCS) and familial partial lipodystrophy (FPL). The Company offers SPINRAZA, a Generation 2.0+ antisense drug.

About Agenus

Agenus Inc. (Agenus) is an immuno-oncology (I-O) company. The Company focuses on the discovery and development of therapies that engage the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It is developing a I-O portfolio driven by platforms and programs, such as antibody discovery platforms, including Retrocyte Display, SECANT yeast display and phage display technologies designed to produce human antibodies; antibody candidate programs, including checkpoint modulator (CPM) programs; vaccine programs, including Prophage, AutoSynVax and PhosPhoSynVax, and saponin-based vaccine adjuvants, principally QS-21 Stimulon adjuvant (QS-21 Stimulon). The Company’s discovery pipeline includes a range of checkpoint modulating (CPM) antibodies. The Company’s vaccine platforms include its heat shock protein (HSP)-based Prophage vaccine candidates, and its synthetic vaccine candidates, ASV and PSV.

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