Why Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Shares Skyrocketed

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What: Shares of Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AGIO  ) began the morning with a strong move higher, and have continued to surge throughout the day -- as of this writing, shares were 34% higher than last night's close. The big pop is clearly the result of Agios' final earnings report of 2013, which showed a steeper-than-expected quarterly loss, but was otherwise was full of positive news.

So what: Agios' fourth-quarter revenue came in at $6.7 million, with $25.5 million reported for the full year, both of which bested analyst expectations for $6.2 million for the quarter and $25.1 million for the full year. A quarterly loss of $0.40 per share, while worse than the $0.34-per-share loss analysts had modeled, could be explained primarily by larger R&D expenses.

Agios is currently moving toward clinical trials for IDH1 mutant-inhibitor cancer treatment AG-120, which should begin anytime now, and is also pursuing two investigational new drug applications, including one for AG-348, an inborn errors-of-metabolism drug that should begin trials around midyear. The company will also present data from its phase 1 study of AG-221, an IDH2 mutant-inhibitor cancer drug at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in April, which is sooner than expected and which appears to bode well for the quality of study results. These studies appear set to burn roughly $64 million of Agios' cash, as the company projects a year-end balance of roughly $130 million, as compared to 2013's year-end balance of $194 million.

Now what: Agios was largely flat since its IPO last until today's trade, because there really wasn't much information to go on for investors. While the company's updated the public somewhat on the progress of its drug candidates -- and the accelerated presentation timetable indicates some optimism for AG-221 -- there's really nothing much tangible to go on just yet.

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Alex Planes

Alex Planes specializes in the deep analysis of tech, energy, and retail companies, with a particular focus on the ways new or proposed technologies can (and will) shape the future. He is also a dedicated student of financial and business history, often drawing on major events from the past to help readers better understand what's happening today and what might happen tomorrow.

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9/2/2015 10:58 AM
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