Why Synageva BioPharma Corp. Shares Briefly Surged

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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 Synageva BioPharma (NASDAQ: GEVA  ) , a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapies to treat rare and unmet diseases, popped briefly by as much as 13% at the opening bell following a trio of positive news, headlined by its fourth-quarter earnings report. Shares have since retreated to a more modest gain of 6%.

So what: For the quarter, Synageva reported total revenue of $3.47 million, right in line with the Street's expectations, but it managed to only lose $1 per share, $0.02 per share narrower than the Street had forecast. Anytime a clinical-stage biotech can reduce its losses, and thus its cash burn, it's good news. Secondly, Synageva announced that it has been granted a patent for the treatment of lysosomal acide lipase (LAL) deficiency, which is what sebelipase alfa, its lead drug, is targeting. Finally, Synageva got a bit of help from research firm R.W. Baird which came to the defense of its recent share-price weakness and noted that the company should be bought at its current levels. It maintained its outperform rating and $107 price target on the company.

Now what: This is certainly all good news here today, but I still cannot wrap my hands around Synageva's monstrous $3.3 billion valuation given its precipitous cash burn and the fact that it has but one other very early stage clinical study beyond sebelipase alfa. Its current price assumes utopian results from all of its studies, as well as the perfect launch of its drug, if approved. It's extremely rare that anything ever goes according to plan in the biotech sector, so I'm among the minority here that considers Synageva to be potentially overvalued.

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Sean Williams

A Fool since 2010, and a graduate from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Economics, Sean specializes in the healthcare sector and in investment planning topics. You'll usually find him writing about Obamacare, marijuana, developing drugs, diagnostics, and medical devices, Social Security, taxes, or any number of other macroeconomic issues.

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