Ocugen Stock Needs a Catalyst for Growth That Probably Isn’t Coming

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On Oct. 5, InvestorPlace’s Louis Navellier argued that Ocugen (NASDAQ:OCGN) stock needs a catalyst for it to break free. 

OCGN stock: hands of medical professional holding a syringe, symbolizing vaccine

Source: shutterstock.com/PhotobyTawat

One day earlier, Ocugen appeared to get not one but two catalysts, according to a regulatory filing. As a result, OCGN stock even traded 11% higher in pre-market Oct. 5 trading. Yet by the end of the day, it was up less than 3%. 

For a stock as fast-moving as Ocugen, that’s a very subdued reaction from investors. 

Between the middle of June and Oct. 8, OCGN has traded in a tight range between $6 and $8. Four months is a long time to be stuck in neutral when the Reddit crowd keeps banging Ocugen’s drum.

As my colleague said, the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) that Bharat Biotech has applied for with the World Health Organization (WHO) is said to be days or weeks away. However, at the end of September, WHO asked for more information from the India-based company.

So, it’s anyone’s guess when the agency will render a decision.

What I’m having a hard time understanding is why investors are so excited about this approval. It doesn’t provide Ocugen with a single dollar of sales.

It merely puts Covaxin in a slightly better light with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

My InvestorPlace colleague Larry Ramer recently discussed Ocugen’s dilemma

“[A]n emergency authorization by the World Health Organization (WHO) will not increase Ocugen’s top or bottom lines by one cent. And any approval of Covaxin by countries other than the U.S. and Canada will not impact Ocugen’s financial results at all,” Ramer wrote on Oct. 6. 

I recommend reading Larry’s article. It makes it pretty clear that Ocugen faces tremendous headwinds in its effort to develop Covaxin for the U.S. and Canadian markets. 

However, he does believe OCGN stock could see a 20% pop after the WHO grants EUL status. That would put it at $8.50 or so. At which point, I will be reminded by a particular StockTwits user that I must eat my hat as I said I would in June. 

But as Larry says, the EUL does squat for Ocugen in the near term, and frankly, very little in the long term.

The Two Catalysts for OCGN Stock

As I said in the beginning, Ocugen’s regulatory filing had two catalysts. 

The first was its Sept. 29 agreement with Bharat Biotech that will see the Indian company manufacture and supply the components necessary to make Covaxin for clinical trials and subsequent commercial supply. 

At the very least, it suggests that Bharat Biotech believes there’s still a possibility that Covaxin can get full approval for the U.S. and Canadian markets. To abandon your partner when the upside is so high, and the downside so low makes little sense. 

A real-world example would be if you were a student at a Florida university and hitching a ride back to your Virginia hometown with another student who has a car. It’s unlikely that you’d upset your driver to the point where he kicks you out en route. That would be plain dumb.

In this case, Bharat Biotech is the passenger. It’s not time to rock the boat.

The second catalyst is the news surrounding OCU410, Ocugen’s gene therapy candidate, to treat dry age-related macular degeneration.

Under its co-development and commercialization agreement with CanSino Biologics (OTCMKTS:CASBF), a Chinese vaccine developer, the two companies will work together to develop the product, with CanSino getting the exclusive license to manufacture and sell OCU410 in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. 

To me, if you’re a company seeking to commercialize products, this is welcome news. Further, CanSino has a market cap that’s almost seven times greater than Ocugen. It needs help from these larger businesses if it wants to go from the bench to the playing field. 

Yet, the stock barely moved on either piece of news. 

The Bottom Line

It appears the only thing that will satisfy investors at this point is if Ocugen gets the green light to provide Covaxin to U.S. patients. And that’s not happening anytime soon. 

The request from the FDA requesting that it seek a Biologics License Application or full approval means we’ll be well into 2022 before this happens. 

Until that day comes to pass, finding a catalyst for OCGN stock is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s near impossible.

On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Will Ashworth has written about investments full-time since 2008. Publications where he’s appeared include InvestorPlace, The Motley Fool Canada, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and several others in both the U.S. and Canada. He particularly enjoys creating model portfolios that stand the test of time. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

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