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8 Stocks That Could Double From 2020 to 2021, With No COVID-19 Focus at All

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 5/29/2020 Jon C. Ogg

a close up of a device © Provided by 24/7 Wall St. The stock market's fall from February through March was monumental, bringing on the fastest bear market we have seen in our lives. The stock market's recovery, after the trillions of dollars of stimulus and as the reopening of the economy, has been so strong that the indexes have recovered most of their losses. Many investors feel confused about the massive swings, as the recession was so fast. They are looking for new ideas, or even old ideas that make sense, for how to be invested heading into summer and ahead of the election later in 2020.

24/7 Wall St. covers dozens of analyst reports each day of the week. That ends up being hundreds of calls each week. Most analyst ratings in Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 stocks generally had been coming with 8% to 10% in total return projections before the recession. Now some upside targets are higher while many remain muted. What is amazing is that some Wall Street analysts are still making new recommendations to their customers to buy stocks that may rise 100%, 150% or even over 200% in the year ahead.

Investors always should keep in mind that analyst calls sometimes do have not much more insight than sophisticated individuals and institutional investors. Other times the analysts have access to far better data. Regardless of how insightful or data-centric a big recommendation is, investors should never use any single analyst call as the sole reason to buy or sell a stock.

Another consideration for investors is that calls with massive upside potential generally imply a much greater risk. In our years of covering stocks that can double, we have found that they generally are focused on more speculative small-cap stocks. Some are occasionally still in the S&P 500 or are well known, but these are never in mega-cap or Dow stocks. Another characteristic about analyst calls for stocks to double is that they rarely come from bulge bracket firms like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley or JPMorgan.

Ahead of Thursday's pullback, the S&P 500 was up 5% heading into the last trading day of May 2020, and the index was already up 35% from its lowest close during the panic selling in March. That is unheard of, but much of the gains came from the new list of defensive stocks in a COVID-19 recession. Other sectors and large companies have so far not caught up. That is definitely true among some of the small caps and speculative stocks, and some of these stocks are mere shadows of their former selves.

While there is so much hype and hope on companies making vaccines, cures or treatments for COVID-19, we have eliminated the biotechs and other companies with a focus of targeting the coronavirus in their business model. Those all have some hope and merit, but too many companies with no backgrounds at all have issued ambitious plans in press releases and many of them still get no analyst coverage at all.

Again, analyst calls should only be one of multiple steps in any decision to buy or sell a stock. These are summaries of many of the analyst calls made since mid-May with stock price targets that are calling a double or more. Please note that some have seen their share prices tick up since the calls were made, so they would need to see pullbacks for a true "double the money potential" to the formal target prices.

Axcella Health's Exponential Potential

Wedbush Securities started Axcella Health Inc. (NASDAQ: AXLA) as Outperform with a $28 price target on May 28. That compared with a prior $5.17 closing price, but the shares went up to $6.00 due to the target being so high. While exponential upside is being called for, investors should pay attention to the market cap being only $185 million ahead of the analyst report.

ALSO READ: 10 Overbought Stocks That Could Now Be Greatly Overvalued

Axcella also recently completed a $60 million capital raise and Wedbush was in the underwriting syndicate. The view for exponential upside here is on Axcella's proprietary endogenous metabolic modulators targeting nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, overt hepatic encephalopathy, sickle cell and acute muscle atrophy.

Axcella stock also has a 52-week trading range of $2.25 to $15.25.

Fannie Mae Anti-Conservatorship (Maybe Freddie Mac Too!)

Fannie Mae (FNMA) has seen its shares swing around the recession and the mortgage forgiveness issues, but the Federal Housing Finance Agency is still looking for it and Freddie Mac (FMCC) to exit government conservatorship.

After a huge expected capital raise in 2021, the plan is that these government-sponsored enterprises will be independent companies that are well financed and free from the government. Nomura/Instinet has maintained as $5 price target on Fannie Mae looking into 2021, but out to 2024 it sees a path to a $9 stock based on current information. The analyst even sees it paying a dividend in 2024 if all goes well.

Fannie Mae stock closed at $2.16 a share, in a 52-week range of $1.26 to $4.23.

Fly Leasing May Still Be Flying

Fly Leasing Ltd. (NYSE: FLY) is a small-cap player that purchases and leases commercial aircraft under multiyear contracts to various airlines. Its fleet is 84 planes that are leased to 40 airlines in 24 countries, with a fleet value of approximately $2.7 billion. The company's market cap is $260 million.

JPMorgan issued a new Overweight rating and assigned a $15 price target on May 26. The Irish-based player had closed at $6.21 ahead of the call, and it initially traded up to $7.50, before rising above $8 later in the week. That means this stock was a double for the holders ahead of the call, and now it would only bring 100% upside if the shares pull back.

Fly Leasing stock has traded in a 52-week range of $3.41 to $23.21. In a more conservative call, Deutsche Bank slashed its price target to $10 from $20 after the company's earnings report.

GasLog and LNG Carriers

GasLog Ltd. (NYSE: GLOG) was choppy earlier in May after its earnings increased 36% to $0.15 per share and beat expectations. Stifel chimed in and reiterated its Buy rating after GasLog's report, and while the firm lowered its price target to $7 from $8, this entity was trading just under $3.50 as of May 28. That offers the 100% threshold, now that it has pulled back 25% over the past month.

The operator of liquefied natural gas carriers has a 52-week trading range of $2.67 to $15.16, so this may sound less aggressive in expecting a great return to normalcy for the call to be seen.

ALSO READ: 10 Forces Driving the Stock Market Gains and the Economic Recovery

Green Plains Still Riding Ethanol

Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRE) saw its shares surge after Jefferies raised its rating to Buy from Hold and lifted its $7 target to $16 on May 20. The stock then rallied from about $7 to $9 on the news and on big volume, but the stock pulled back under $8.70 later in the week. This is another stock that needs to pull back before it technically can be a "stock to double."

The firm liked the Green Plains cost reductions, as the ethanol industry has been rebalancing along with gasoline demand. The firm even highlighted a direct financial benefit under the CARES Act and from its hedging strategy. For a more conservative view, note that on May 5 BMO Capital Markets maintained an Outperform rating but cut its target price to $13 from $25. That said, this company destroyed key shareholder ambitions in 2019.

Last seen trading at $8.64, Green Plains stock has a 52-week range of $3.77 to $16.49.

Precigen Focus on CAR-T

Precigen Inc. (NASDAQ: PGEN) is a small, $425 million biotech outfit targeting human papillomavirus tumors in trials, and it reported earnings in early May. H.C. Wainwright started it with a new Buy rating and a $5 price target after that report.

Precigen stock had traded above $3 after those reports were out, but the more recent share price of $2.47 is back at that 100% in implied upside threshold, if the firm is correct.

It has a 52-week trading range of $1.26 to $8.77, and this was the first analyst call we have seen on this company in some time. Precigen is set to present data on June 22 covering its PRGN-3005 UltraCAR-T platinum-resistant ovarian study, and that candidate also is targeted for fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer.

Synchronoss, Driving Customer Experiences?

Synchronoss Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SNCR) is now just a shadow of its former self from a few years ago. The company offers cloud, digital, messaging, Internet of Things and other communication platform services to drive customer experiences.

The company reported a loss earlier in May and also withdrew its guidance, but on May 26 Northland Securities issued a new Outperform rating, along with a $6.50 price target.

The shares traded at $2.40 ahead of the call, but they were closer to $2.65 late in the week. Synchronoss Technologies stock has a $2.17 to $9.05 trading range over the past 52 weeks.

ALSO READ: 40 Solid Stocks Thriving Through the COVID-19 Recession

Zynerba Targets Autism, Anxiety, Behavioral Challenges

Canaccord Genuity reiterated Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ZYNE) shares as Buy with an $18 price target on May 28. This company has a tiny $140 million market cap, and the call pointed toward its BRIGHT open-label study data in autism spectrum disorder.

The firm noted that all eyes are still on the treatment of Fragile X Syndrome anxiety and behavioral challenges with CBD results in about a month. This target represented more than 200% in implied upside from a recent $5.75 share price.

Zynerba stock's 52-week trading range is $2.55 to $15.70. For an even more aggressive stance, note that Cantor Fitzgerald chimed in on May 28 as well by reiterating its Overweight rating and raising its already higher $21 price target to $24. Unfortunately, Zynerba is no stranger to pain.

And a Bonus With COVID-19: Sorrento Therapeutics

One stock that does have direct COVID-19 ties, and which is not one of the eight (or nine counting Freddie Mac) listed, is Sorrento Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRNE). The firm Dawson James initiated coverage with a Buy rating and $24 price target, but this was barely a $5 stock at the time. The call came after the FDA gave clearance to proceed with STI-6129 as a CD38 targeting antibody drug.

Sorrento stock was trading at $4.95 heading into the last trading day of May, and it has a 52-week range of $1.39 to $10.00.

Are any additional reminders and risks about analyst calls needed? We hope not, but as always the "caveat emptor" approach should at least be given some consideration along the way.

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