Why Endocyte, Inc. Shares Briefly 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 Endocyte (NASDAQ: ECYT  ) , a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the research and development of therapies designed to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases, jumped as much 10% after reporting its fourth-quarter earnings results. The big gains were short-lived with Endocyte up around 4% as of this writing.

So what: For the quarter, Endocyte reported revenue of $17.3 million, of which $14.5 million was tied to amortized up-front license and milestone revenue, and $2.8 million was related to amortized reimbursable expenditures, both from its ongoing collaboration with Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) . This collaborative revenue relates to the ongoing development of vintafolide and will stop being recognized at the end of this year. Research and development expenses rose 29% to $13.5 million while general and administrative expenses jumped 34% to $6.7 million. Overall, Endocyte's net loss widened to $2.9 million, or $0.08 per share, from $0.8 million or $0.02 per share in the year-ago quarter. By comparison, Wall Street anticipated a much heftier $0.15 EPS loss and just $15.8 million in revenue.

Now what: Ultimately, what we saw here today with Endocyte's brief pop is how little investors generally care about a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company's earnings report. The big figure that shareholders seem to be excited about is the fact that Endocyte anticipates ending fiscal 2014 with $90 million-$110 million in cash, which is more than ample to sustain its R&D pipeline for a number of quarters beyond 2014. Earnings aside, what investors will want to focus on now is the progression of ovarian and lung cancer drug vintafolide, which is currently in a number of studies ranging from phase 1 to phase 3. This experimental therapy remains the most immediate catalyst for Endocyte shares in 2014.

Endocyte shares may be up nicely today, but they'll likely have a hard time keeping up with this top stock in 2014
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