Why Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. Shares Jumped

Ironwood shares soar after reporting its first-quarter results. Should shareholders be excited or skeptical after this release?

Apr 29, 2014 at 2:09PM

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 Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IRWD), a biopharmaceutical company with a focus on developing therapies to treat gastrointestinal disorders, rose as much as 18% after reporting its first-quarter results before the opening bell.

So what: For the quarter, Ironwood recorded $14.6 million in revenue, up dramatically from the $3.3 million reported in the year-ago period. Its revenue consisted of $8.4 million tied to the sale of Linzess -- a therapy approved for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and chronic idiopathic constipation for which it's partnered with Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX) -- as well as $6.2 million from the sale of linaclotide's (the scientific name for Linzess) active pharmaceutical ingredient, and amortized revenue and/or milestone payments associated with Astellas Pharma, AstraZeneca, and Almirall. Net loss for the quarter shrunk noticeably to $49.6 million, or $0.38 per share, from $93.9 million or $0.87 per share in the prior year period. By comparison, Wall Street was expecting just $5 million in Linzess shared revenue and a wider loss of $0.42 per share.

Now what: Sales of Linzess appear to be progressing nicely, which should translate into a growing revenue stream for Ironwood, and hopefully shrinking losses. But with the majority of the revenue share going to Forest Labs (total Linzess sales were $60.8 million) I can't help but point out that it could be years before Ironwood is at breakeven in the profit-versus-loss column. Although the company has $332 million in cash, its midrange operating expense forecast of $230 million for 2014 is hefty. As such, with a $1.4 billion valuation and profits potentially years away, I would suggest sticking to the sidelines until Ironwood proves its worth.

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