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Gilead Sciences Shares Surged: What You Need to Know

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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 biopharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD  ) rallied as much as 11% today following the release of new data for its hepatitis-C drug GS-7977 and after reporting fourth-quarter results.

So what: Gilead's gains today are all about the data released last night revolving around GS-7977. The study found that when the GS-7977 pill was combined with ribavirin, 100% of genotype 1 hep-C patients had no trace of the virus found after four weeks of treatment. Gilead also reported fourth-quarter results, which showed revenue grew by 10% to $2.2 billion, slightly beating consensus estimates of $2.18 billion, but earnings fell $0.08 shy of Wall Street's estimates ($0.97 vs. $1.05). Outside of the hep-C data, the highlight of Gilead's report was the 11% growth in its HIV drug, Atripla.

Now what: Today's data looks like bad news for much of the hep-C sector because, as of now, Gilead's drug looks far superior. That's the reason Idenix Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: IDIX  ) is dropping 15% today as it's still hoping to find a buyer of its experimental drug candidate IDX184. Then again, even with the hep-C market estimated at $5 billion, Gilead shares have tacked on more than 30% just since the start of the year, so what value may have been there is long gone. I'd consider taking another look at Gilead down the road, but only after a significant pullback.

Craving more input? Start by adding Gilead Sciences to your free and personalized watchlist, so you can keep track of the latest news with the company.

Fool contributor 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. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Gilead Sciences. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.

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