Sirtex Medical Limited shares have been smashed in 2016


Shares in cancer treatment business Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX: SRX) have reversed course in 2016 as the firm faces a weaker-than-expected US dollar and retreat in previously bullish sentiment.

At the turn of the year the shares sat above $40 as a raft of analysts including those at leading investment banks UBS AG, Goldman Sachs and Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) slapped high price targets on the stock based on expectations for strong sales growth.

However, the company didn’t meet expectations when it delivered half-year dose sales growth of just 15.7% over the prior corresponding period, with only the core Americas region firing as expected. Worse news came when the company announced the head of the Americas region, Mike Mangano, was quitting the company at the end of the financial year to pursue other opportunities.

Given the reliance on US sales this departure looks a setback for the company, although arguably the product could sell itself given the weight of persuasive clinical evidence now backing it up. This includes the recent publication of its SIRFLOX study results in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology. The benefits of this publication may not be felt fully until the first half of FY17.

Sirtex is also continuing to grow globally with an agreement recently struck in the Netherlands for distribution, while over the longer term Japan and China are two potentially lucrative markets to be tapped.

Also notable is the fact that the chief executive has declined to backtrack on his forecast for the company to post at least 19.7% dose sales growth over the full year.

It’s unknown whether the company would feel it necessary to inform the market if it did not expect to meet that guidance, but given we’re about to complete Q3 it must have a reasonable idea as to what figure to expect.

If Sirtex does achieve or beat its full year dose sales guidance then shares will look substantially undervalued at today’s price of $28.10.

Other healthcare shares on the nose recently due to the appreciating US dollar include ResMed Inc. (CHESS) (ASX: RMD), Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) and CSL Limited (ASX: CSL). All of these businesses remain strong long-term bets in my opinion, with Sirtex offering the steepest risk / reward proposition at current prices.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson owns shares of ResMed Inc. and Sirtex Medical Limited.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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