Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) and Asterias Biotherapeutics (NYSE:AST) are both medical companies, but which is the superior business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, dividends, risk, earnings and valuation.

Volatility & Risk

Ligand Pharmaceuticals has a beta of 0.94, indicating that its share price is 6% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Asterias Biotherapeutics has a beta of 1.37, indicating that its share price is 37% more volatile than the S&P 500.


This table compares Ligand Pharmaceuticals and Asterias Biotherapeutics’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Ligand Pharmaceuticals 7.39% 5.05% 2.94%
Asterias Biotherapeutics -2,762.03% -86.25% -66.19%

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Ligand Pharmaceuticals and Asterias Biotherapeutics’ gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Ligand Pharmaceuticals $108.97 million 26.43 -$1.63 million $0.36 406.79
Asterias Biotherapeutics N/A N/A N/A ($0.74) -3.18

Asterias Biotherapeutics has higher revenue, but lower earnings than Ligand Pharmaceuticals. Asterias Biotherapeutics is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ligand Pharmaceuticals, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent recommendations and price targets for Ligand Pharmaceuticals and Asterias Biotherapeutics, as provided by

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Ligand Pharmaceuticals 0 1 3 0 2.75
Asterias Biotherapeutics 0 0 2 0 3.00

Ligand Pharmaceuticals presently has a consensus target price of $139.00, suggesting a potential downside of 5.08%. Asterias Biotherapeutics has a consensus target price of $12.00, suggesting a potential upside of 410.64%. Given Asterias Biotherapeutics’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Asterias Biotherapeutics is more favorable than Ligand Pharmaceuticals.


Ligand Pharmaceuticals beats Asterias Biotherapeutics on 6 of the 9 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Ligand Pharmaceuticals

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Ligand) is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. The Company is involved in the development and licensing of biopharmaceutical assets. The Company employs research technologies, such as nuclear receptor assays, high throughput computer screening, formulation science, liver targeted pro-drug technologies and antibody discovery technologies to assist companies in their work toward obtaining prescription drug approvals. As of December 31, 2016, it had partnerships and license agreements with over 85 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and over 140 various programs under license with it were in various stages of commercialization and development. It has contributed research and technologies for approved medicines that treat cancer, osteoporosis, fungal infections and low blood platelets, among others.

About Asterias Biotherapeutics

Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company. The Company is engaged in developing and commercializing therapies in the fields of cell therapy and regenerative medicine. The Company has over two technology platforms. The first is an immunotherapy platform to teach cancer patients’ immune systems to attack their tumors. The second is pluripotent stem cell platform. Pluripotent cells are a type of stem cell capable of becoming all of the cell types in the human body. From its immunotherapy platform, the Company is developing over two programs. AST-VAC1 (telomerase loaded, autologous dendritic cells), which allows patient’s own cells to recognize and fight cancer cells in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Together with Cancer Research United Kingdom (CRUK), it is developing AST-VAC2 (telomerase loaded, -allogeneic dendritic cells), -derived from pluripotent stem cells. From its pluripotent stem cell platform, it is developing AST-OPC1, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells.

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