Athersys (ATHX) & ZS Pharma (ZSPH) Critical Analysis

Athersys (NASDAQ: ATHX) and ZS Pharma (NASDAQ:ZSPH) are both healthcare companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, analyst recommendations, earnings, valuation, institutional ownership, risk and dividends.


This table compares Athersys and ZS Pharma’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Athersys -746.04% -113.63% -86.25%
ZS Pharma N/A -66.24% -58.88%

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Athersys and ZS Pharma’s gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Athersys $17.35 million 13.19 -$15.33 million ($0.26) -7.42
ZS Pharma N/A N/A N/A ($4.72) N/A

ZS Pharma has lower revenue, but higher earnings than Athersys. Athersys is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than ZS Pharma, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current recommendations and price targets for Athersys and ZS Pharma, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Athersys 0 0 3 0 3.00
ZS Pharma 0 0 0 0 N/A

Athersys presently has a consensus target price of $9.50, suggesting a potential upside of 392.23%.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

21.0% of Athersys shares are held by institutional investors. 9.4% of Athersys 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.


Athersys beats ZS Pharma on 5 of the 8 factors compared between the two stocks.

Athersys Company Profile

Athersys, Inc. is an international biotechnology company that is focused primarily in the field of regenerative medicine. The Company’s MultiStem cell therapy, an allogeneic stem cell product, is its lead platform product and is in later-stage clinical development. Its clinical development programs are focused on treating neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory and immune disorders, certain pulmonary conditions and other conditions where the standard of care is limited or inadequate for many patients. In the neurological area, the Company evaluated in a completed Phase II trial, the potential for MultiStem treatment of patients with a history of neurological damage from an ischemic stroke. The Company initiated a Phase II clinical study in the United States for the administration of MultiStem cell therapy to patients with a history of an acute myocardial infarction, or AMI.

ZS Pharma Company Profile

ZS Pharma, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of non-absorbed drugs to treat renal, cardiovascular, liver and metabolic diseases. The Company’s zirconium silicate technology allows it to create selective ion traps that can reduce toxic levels of specific electrolytes without disturbing the balance of other electrolytes. The Company has completed Phase III development of its product candidate, sodium zirconium cyclosilicate (ZS-9), for the treatment of hyperkalemia, a life-threatening condition in which elevated levels of potassium increase the risk of muscle dysfunction, including cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. The Company has completed three clinical studies with ZS-9 for patients with hyperkalemia, including patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), heart failure (HF), diabetes and those on renin-angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitor therapy.

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