AcelRx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACRX) and Nantkwest (NASDAQ:NK) are both small-cap medical companies, but which is the superior business? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their dividends, risk, analyst recommendations, profitability, earnings, institutional ownership and valuation.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and target prices for AcelRx Pharmaceuticals and Nantkwest, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals 0 3 4 0 2.57
Nantkwest 1 2 1 0 2.00

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals currently has a consensus price target of $6.83, indicating a potential upside of 250.43%. Nantkwest has a consensus price target of $5.33, indicating a potential upside of 15.44%. Given AcelRx Pharmaceuticals’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, research analysts clearly believe AcelRx Pharmaceuticals is more favorable than Nantkwest.

Profitability

This table compares AcelRx Pharmaceuticals and Nantkwest’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals -374.76% N/A -58.74%
Nantkwest -204,606.36% -36.21% -32.04%

Volatility & Risk

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals has a beta of 2.96, meaning that its stock price is 196% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Nantkwest has a beta of 3.41, meaning that its stock price is 241% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares AcelRx Pharmaceuticals and Nantkwest’s revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals $17.36 million 5.65 -$43.15 million ($1.12) -1.74
Nantkwest $40,000.00 9,177.63 -$120.80 million ($1.27) -3.64

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals has higher revenue and earnings than Nantkwest. Nantkwest is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

13.7% of AcelRx Pharmaceuticals shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 19.1% of Nantkwest shares are owned by institutional investors. 28.1% of AcelRx Pharmaceuticals shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 70.2% of Nantkwest shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Summary

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals beats Nantkwest on 9 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Company Profile

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for the treatment of moderate-to-severe acute pain. The Company operates through the segment, which includes development and commercialization of product candidates for the treatment of pain. Its lead product candidates include ARX-04, Zalviso, which utilize sublingual sufentanil, delivered through a non-invasive route of administration, and ARX-03. ARX-04 is meant for the treatment of moderate-to-severe acute pain to be administered by a healthcare professional to a patient in medically supervised settings. Zalviso is meant for the management of moderate-to-severe acute pain in hospitalized adult patients. ARX-03 provides mild sedation, anxiety reduction and pain relief for patients undergoing painful procedures in a physician’s office. It also includes ARX-02, which is meant for the treatment of patients who suffer from breakthrough pain (BTP) due to cancer.

Nantkwest Company Profile

NantKwest, Inc. is a clinical-stage immunotherapy company. The Company is focused on harnessing the power of the innate immune system by using the natural killer cell to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. Its immuno-oncology NK platform has multiple modes to induce cell death against the tumor or infected cell by direct killing by binding to stress ligands expressed by the diseased cell with the release of toxic granules directly into the tumor cell; antibody mediated killing by binding to antibodies administered in combination and enhancing the cancer killing effect of the administered antibody, enabling targeted cell killing through antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), and target activated killing by binding to known or newly discovered tumor-specific antigens expressed on the surface of tumor cells and inducing cell death by the release of toxic granules directly into the tumor cell and by the release of cytokines and chemokines.

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