(Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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An awful day for the stock market turned into a terrible one for shares of Syneos Health (SYNH), which fell 13.7%. This slide was driven by an operational update provided during an investor presentation at the Baird Global Healthcare Conference earlier today. Specifically, while the company’s large pharmaceutical relationships remain very strong, SYNH is experiencing slower near-term awards flow based upon the timing of customers’ current pipelines. What’s more, following record award activity from the small and mid-cap (SMID) biopharmaceutical and oncology markets within its Clinical Solutions segment in Q4 of 2021 and to start this year, the macroeconomic environment has begun having a more pronounced impact on the request for proposal (RFP) flow within these markets as well. And while this had already led to higher-than-normal award delays from customers taking a more deliberate approach to their developmental plans, SYNH noted that this dynamic has continued into the current quarter.
Collectively, this slower pace of new awards now has SYNH anticipating its clinical trailing 12-month book-to-bill ratio at the end of Q3 to be in the range of 1.05-1.15 (excluding reimbursable costs). That’s down from the 1.29 it ended Q2 with and below the 1.20 threshold that the company would have to regularly maintain in order to deliver on its 2023 clinical growth profile. And should this ratio continue to trend below this level, it’s likely to result in lower revenue growth overall, not only for the remainder of 2022, but next year as well.
That said, SYNH’s stock had taken a pounding after initially revealing these softening order trends when it reported Q2 earnings early last month and was already down 38% for the year. As a result, it had gone from trading at a forward price/earnings ratio of 20 and at a premium to the overall market to start 2022 to less than 13 times its consensus estimate for the year and trading at a significant discount to it even before today’s news. Given our belief that this had more than priced in the expectations for such slower growth ahead and that the healthy pipeline of clinical opportunities longer out within both the large pharmaceutical and SMID markets remains supportive of a return to the stronger growth trends the company had been enjoying prior to 2022 once customer decision-making activity normalizes, we view today’s steep additional slide as unwarranted and clearly exacerbated by what was one of the worst days for the U.S. equity market ever. Once cooler heads prevail, we expect shares of SYNH to begin recovering in kind.
Taesik Yoon is the editor of Forbes Investor.