Why Versartis Inc. Shares Briefly Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Versartis , a wholly clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies to treat metabolic diseases and endocrine disorders, popped as much as 12% after exiting its post-IPO quiet period and getting coverage initiated on the company by four major research firms. Shares have since given up most of their gains and are now up around 3%.

So what: The quiet period for IPOs is 25 days following their debut, and it's a period marked by a company issuing no earnings forecasts and research firms issuing no coverage. Once that 25 days is up, however, it's game on as you can tell. Starting coverage on Versartis today is Canaccord Genuity with a "buy" rating and a $36 price target; Cowen & Co. with an "outperform" rating; Citigroup with a "buy" rating and $60 price target; and an "overweight" ranking and $79 price target from Morgan Stanley.

Now what: Before you get too excited about these lofty price targets, consider that Citigroup and Morgan Stanley were the joint book-running managers for Versartis' IPO, Cowen & Co. was acting as lead manager, and Canaccord Genuity was its acting co-manager, so it's no wonder these companies are all so optimistic on Versartis. Ultimately, analyst ratings tend to be very short-term drivers of a company's share price and they rarely affect the long-term investment thesis of a company. I would certainly qualify today's coverage initiations as falling into that broad category of extremely short-term news-driven events.

What shareholder will really want to focus on is VRS-317, the company's only development-stage therapy to treat growth hormone deficiency in adults and children. To date, VRS-317 has only made it through a phase 1 study in adult patients and has a phase 1/2 pediatric patient trial currently enrolling, so we're readying for the meat and potatoes of the therapies' efficacy so to speak. There could be a large market for HGH-deficiency meds, so this is what prospective investors will want to focus on instead of the analyst coverage parade.

Versartis shares may have jumped notably today, but they'll likely have a hard time keeping pace with this top stock in 2014
There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

The article Why Versartis Inc. Shares Briefly Popped originally appeared on Fool.com.

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of Citigroup. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.

Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read Full Story