Pacira Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PCRX) and Apricus Biosciences (NASDAQ:APRI) are both small-cap medical companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, risk, earnings, analyst recommendations, dividends, institutional ownership and profitability.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

99.6% of Pacira Pharmaceuticals shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 12.8% of Apricus Biosciences shares are held by institutional investors. 6.6% of Pacira Pharmaceuticals shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 3.6% of Apricus Biosciences shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Risk and Volatility

Pacira Pharmaceuticals has a beta of 2.04, meaning that its share price is 104% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Apricus Biosciences has a beta of 0.5, meaning that its share price is 50% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and target prices for Pacira Pharmaceuticals and Apricus Biosciences, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Pacira Pharmaceuticals 1 7 9 0 2.47
Apricus Biosciences 0 0 2 0 3.00

Pacira Pharmaceuticals presently has a consensus price target of $50.31, suggesting a potential upside of 19.64%. Apricus Biosciences has a consensus price target of $4.50, suggesting a potential upside of 184.81%. Given Apricus Biosciences’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Apricus Biosciences is more favorable than Pacira Pharmaceuticals.

Profitability

This table compares Pacira Pharmaceuticals and Apricus Biosciences’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Pacira Pharmaceuticals -18.25% -13.77% -6.34%
Apricus Biosciences N/A -527.09% -126.76%

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Pacira Pharmaceuticals and Apricus Biosciences’ top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Pacira Pharmaceuticals $276.37 million 6.17 -$37.94 million ($1.31) -32.10
Apricus Biosciences $5.76 million 4.17 -$7.43 million $0.58 2.72

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

Summary

Pacira Pharmaceuticals beats Apricus Biosciences on 8 of the 13 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Pacira Pharmaceuticals

Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a holding company. The Company is a pharmaceutical company focused on the development, manufacture and commercialization of pharmaceutical products, based on its DepoFoam extended release drug delivery technology, for use primarily in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Its lead product candidate is EXPAREL (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension), which consists of bupivacaine, an amide-type local anesthetic, encapsulated in DepoFoam and is indicated for single-dose infiltration into the surgical site to produce postsurgical analgesia. In addition to EXPAREL, DepoFoam is also the basis for its other Food and Drug Administration-approved commercial product, DepoCyt(e), which it manufactures for its commercial partners, as well as its product candidates. The Company’s other product candidates include DepoMeloxicam (DepoMLX) and DepoTranexamic Acid (DepoTXA). DepoCyt(e) is indicated for the intrathecal treatment of lymphomatous meningitis.

About Apricus Biosciences

Apricus Biosciences, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company, which develops pharmaceutical products. The Company primarily focuses on the development and commercialization of products and product candidates in the areas of urology and rheumatology. The Company’s drug delivery technology is a permeation enhancer called NexACT. The Company has over two product candidates in Phase II development, fispemifene for the treatment of symptomatic male secondary hypogonadism and RayVa for the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon, secondary to scleroderma. The Company has a commercial product, Vitaros for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), which is in development in the United States, approved in Canada and marketed throughout Europe.

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