Is a pause to the stock market’s continued surge finally in the cards? The talk has turned to rising interest rates and the specter of inflation against the backdrop of growth powered by Covid fiscal stimulus. However, strategists say there’s no need to get alarmist just yet. According to Goldman Sachs equity strategist, Ryan Hammond, the stock market bull may stick with us for a while. Hammond notes that interest rates remain low, and sees this as the key factor. “Given the historically low level of interest rates, we expect interest rates are still well below levels that would be thought of as a ‘tipping point’ for equities,” Hammond opined. Casting his gaze at the broader markets, Hammond points out that since 2012, the S&P 500 performance has consistently been positively correlated with inflation bets. “Improving growth expectations often correspond with higher breakeven inflation, rising earnings expectations, and improving investor sentiment, which more than offset the higher discount rate,” Hammond wrote, backing his belief that inflation fears should remain low. With rates and inflation low, this makes the stock market the go-to place for investors seeking higher returns. And within the stock market, penny stocks are sure to attract attention. These names trading for under $5 per share are considered to be some of the most controversial on the Street, and divide market watchers into two factions: critics and fans. The former brings a valid argument to the table. Stocks don’t just end up trading at such low levels; typically, there’s a very real reason for their bargain price tags. As for the latter, the potential for an investment worth only pocket change to appreciate even a seemingly insignificant amount, the result of which could be massive percentage gains, is too enticing to ignore. The implication for investors? Due diligence is essential, as some penny stocks might not have what it takes to climb their way back up. Using TipRanks’ database, we pinpointed two compelling penny stocks, as determined by Wall Street pros. Each has earned a “Strong Buy” consensus rating from the analyst community and brings massive growth prospects to the table. We’re talking about triple-digit upside potential here. Checkpoint Therapeutics (CKPT) We will start with Checkpoint Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company that works in the oncology field. Checkpoint acquires, develops, and commercializes immune-enhanced combination treatments for solid tumor cancers. Checkpoint has two leading drug candidates, CK-101 and CK-301. CK-101, known as cosibelimab, is a small-molecule targeted anti-cancer agent, currently undergoing a Phase 1/2 clinical study for the treatment of specific non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The drug candidate targets cancers susceptible to the EGFR mutation, making it applicable to approximately 20% of NSCLC patients. The drug has shown promise compared to traditional chemotherapy treatments. Further studies will test CK-101 against tumor progression due to resistance mutations. The second candidate, CK-301, is an antibody drug currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial focused on patients with selected recurrent or metastatic cancers. The selected cancers include NSCLC, as well as metastatic melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, head and neck cancer, and urothelial carcinoma. All of these cancers are responsive to the therapeutic action of CK-301, an anti-tumor response due to blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction. CK-301 has shown a 44% objective response rate in treated patients during the Phase 1 study, along with a 10.3-month median progression-free survival rate, when compared to currently available approved treatments. Based on these results, the company is continuing its clinical phase program, including an early registration of patients for a Phase 3 study. Among the fans is Cantor analyst Jennifer Kim who writes, “We think the risk-reward is favorable heading into the full, reg-enabling Phase 1 readout for cosibelimab in metastatic CSCC in 2H21. We view this as the key near term focus for CKPT. We expect a positive readout based on what we have viewed as strong interim data that have recently been presented for cosibelimab (SITC 2020, ESMO 2020).” The analyst added “The potential peak sales opportunity for cosibelimab is underappreciated, in our view, and we expect upwards earnings estimate revisions to drive CKPT shares higher.” In line with her upbeat outlook on the cosibelimab potential, Kim rates CKPT shares an Overweight (i.e., Buy), and her $16 price target indicates confidence in a 331% upside potential for the stock. (To watch Kim’s track record, click here) Turning now to the rest of the Street, other analysts are on the same page. With only Buys assigned in the last three months, 3 to be exact, the word on the Street is that CKPT is a Strong Buy. Additionally, the $17.67 average price target brings the upside potential to 365%. (See CKPT stock analysis on TipRanks) Galmed Pharmaceuticals (GLMD) Next up we have Galmed Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biotech specializing in liver, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. The company’s lead candidate is aramchol, a liver targeted SCD‑1 modulator, designated for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), for which aramchol has been given Fast Track Designation status by the FDA. NASH is a fatty liver disease, closely correlated to obesity, for which there are currently no targeted drugs available. Due to the growing obesity rates, the market for NASH medications is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, with some estimating it could be worth $35 billion. Whoever brings a solution into play stands to cash in handsomely. Aramchol has completed Phase 2a and Phase 2b trials and is currently in Phase 3. However, the enrollment for the study was recently temporarily halted; Aramchol meglumine – an NCE (new chemical entity) with extended IP compared to aramchol, and which the company is switching to – is earmarked to take aramchol’s place in the ongoing Phase 3 ARMOR study. In Q2, Galmed expects to sit down with the FDA to discuss substituting aramchol meglumine for aramchol, and file the IND in 1H21. Raymond James analyst Steven Seedhouse thinks the company has been playing its cards right. “Of course, delaying Phase 3 by one year in a competitive NASH field is suboptimal but given all NASH trials are being delayed by COVID anyway, we think Galmed made the right decision to transition to aramchol meglumine now. At this point, FDA go-ahead remains the most important catalyst in 2021, followed by 24- week open label data from the first cohort,” the 5-star analyst opined. Galmed has also recently added a new candidate to the pipeline called Amilo-5MER, a 5 amino acid peptide that inhibits Serum Amyloid A (SAA) polymerization and aggregation. The company believes that Amilo-5MER could potentially play a role in numerous indications, such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and COVID-19. “Preclinical data presented by Galmed show good activity in IBD and RA mouse models… This adds an interesting new value driver for Galmed beyond NASH, which is ongoing,” Seedhouse added. To this end, Seedhouse rates GLMD an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $17 price target. Should his thesis play out, a twelve-month gain of 270% could potentially be in the cards. (To watch Seedhouse’ track record, click here) Wall Street analysts are firmly on Galmed’s side; The stock’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on Buys only – 4, in total. Like Seedhouse, other analysts are anticipating big returns; At $19, the average price target implies gains of 314% in the year ahead. (See GLMD stock analysis on TipRanks) To find good ideas for penny stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.