This Biotech Is Looking Good, Ready for More

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Solid revenue growth and outstanding earnings growth -- is there much else biotech investors can ask for? Upcoming drugs to grow revenue further, you say? Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) has you covered there, too. 

Biogen's third quarter revenue was up 6%, which is nothing to get too excited about, but it's solid enough considering that the strengthening dollar weighed down foreign sales. Top-selling Avonex increased 8%. Sales of Biogen's other multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, which it sells with Elan (NYSE: ELN  ) , were up 3% in the third quarter, although the portion of revenue that Biogen books slipped 1%. Sales of Rituxan, which it Biogen sells with Roche (OTC: RHHBY), were up 8%.

The bottom line looked even better with non-GAAP EPS increasing 19%. While Biogen was able to control expenses, the company-reported number is a little misleading. Biogen sold off the royalty it gets on GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK  )  Benlysta, but as best I can tell, Biogen didn't subtract the $32 million gain it booked from the sale of the royalty from its non-GAAP earnings. If you subtract it out the full $32 million -- which is conservative since it likely paid taxes on that income -- earnings were still up more than 10%.

In the what's-next category, Biogen is waiting on the Food and Drug Administration for approval of its oral multiple sclerosis drug BG-12. The FDA recently extended its review of the drug by three months, but I don't see it as a sign that the drug won't eventually be approved.

Assuming it is, BG-12 should have no problems competing with the other oral medications -- Sanofi's (NYSE: SNY  ) Aubagio and Novartis' (NYSE: NVS  ) Gilenya -- and should be able to take market share from injected drugs such as Teva Pharmaceuticals' (NYSE: TEVA  ) Copaxone. It'll also cannibalize sales of Biogen's current multiple sclerosis drugs, but the net effect should be a larger piece of the multiple sclerosis market.

Biogen's Factor IX protein drug for hemophilia posted positive results last month and the biotech expects to submit its FDA application in the first quarter of next year. The drug could be on the market by the end of next year or early 2014.

Investors could get more late-stage trial news shortly. The phase 3 trial for dexpramipexole, Biogen's experimental treatment for ALS, should read out late this year or early next year .

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