Why InterMune, Inc. Shares Popped

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 biotechnology company InterMune, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITMN  ) climbed 10% today after its preliminary Q4 results impressed Wall Street.

So what: InterMune shares have soared on strong global penetration of its franchise lung disease drug Esbriet, and the current-quarter outlook -- management expects Esbriet revenue growth of 212% in Q4 -- coupled with upbeat full-year guidance suggests that the trend is accelerating. So while a good portion of Esbriet's long-term prospects still depend on its approval in the U.S. (the drug initially rejected by the FDA in 2010), InterMune's surging global sales are prompting analysts to increase their valuation estimates.

Now what: InterMune now expects Esbriet revenue growth of 65% to 90% in 2014. "As we closed out 2013, we announced our progress and planned investments in our growing R&D pipeline that build on our commercial momentum with Esbriet, leverage our expertise in IPF and fibrosis and move us toward realizing our strategic vision of becoming a leader in specialty fibrotic diseases," said Chairman and CEO Dan Welch. Of course, with management still set to communicate top-line results from the U.S. ASCEND study in the second quarter of 2014, I wouldn't bet too much on that optimism just yet.

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