GlaxoSmithKline upgraded to ‘hold’ by ShoreCap after recent momentum but analysts remain cautious

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GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) was upgraded to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ by Shore Capital after recent momentum but the broker is not overly optimistic on the pharma giant’s prospects.

Analysts said the third-quarter results were weaker on the top line, but this was largely as expected and so the focus was on the recovery in vaccines.

READ: GlaxoSmithKline sets net-zero environmental goals by 2030

The broker remains more cautious than consensus on the recovery in vaccines, with lockdowns currently being reintroduced across Europe and rising COVID-infection rates in the US posing a risk to this momentum.

The FTSE 100 firm may deliver a better performance in 2021, particularly in vaccines once there is less pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic, though there are structural risks from mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and dividend uncertainty before the consumer spin out in 2022.

Among the catalysts for the next six to 12 months there are clinical data for GSK’s COVID neutralising antibody Vir7831 partnered with Vir, first-in-human data for the recombinant adjuvanted COVID vaccine developed with Sanofi, the start of three Phase 3 trials for the RSV vaccine, which posted positive Phase II results and could represent potential upside to sales longer-term and proof of concept data for the ICOS agonist tumour antibody.

“With lacklustre financials, a muted growth outlook and the risk of pharma M&A we see limited opportunity for meaningful outperformance,” analysts commented.

Shares were trading at 1,411.2p on Thursday afternoon, having dropped 20% in the year to date but recovered by 10% over the past week.

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