Why Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated Shares Were Mauled

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 Corcept Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CORT  ) , a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of metabolic, psychiatric, and oncologic therapies, collapsed as much as 52% after announcing the discontinuation of its phase 3 psychotic depression study and reporting its first-quarter results.

So what: For the quarter, Corcept delivered $4.4 million in product revenue, up from $1.7 million in the year-ago period, while its net loss crept higher to $13.9 million, or $0.14 per share, from $12.1 million, or $0.12 per share, last year. Corcept also boosted its full-year revenue forecast to a fresh range of $25 million-$29 million from prior guidance of $24 million-$28 million.

This news was for naught, though, as investors focused on the discontinuation of Study 14. Based on interim data and a recommendation from the study's data-monitoring committee, Corcept decided to stop its psychotic depression trial involving mifepristone. Per its press release, "The independent data monitoring committee advised Corcept that continuing its study to its full enrollment of 450 patients would be unlikely to generate a statistically significant result." In response, Corcept ended the study and is now focusing its R&D efforts in the field of cancer research. According to Corcept, investors can expect top-line results on mifepristone's effect on triple-negative breast cancer within the first half of 2015.

Now what: Investors are clearly concerned here because mifepristone pretty much makes up the bulk of Corcept's ongoing research. Although different types of cancer and disorders can respond markedly differently to the same medication, investors' confidence in the success of mifepristone is clearly shaken. At the moment, I don't believe Corcept's only FDA-approved drug, Korlym, has enough sales potential to get Corcept to profitability by itself, so it'll need to gain an additional indication from one of its other mifepristone studies if that's to happen.

Adding fuel to the fire, Corcept's cash and cash equivalents dipped to $43.6 million in the latest quarter. It's possible, with the company on pace to burn around $20 million in cash by my estimates over the next three quarters, that it could turn to a dilutive share offering to raise funds. All in all, I'd suggest sticking to the sidelines until we see some concrete evidence of mifepristone's oncologic success.

Mifepristone could still sport plenty of potential, but even Corcept would likely have a hard time keeping up with this top stock over the long term
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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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9/3/2015 1:13 PM
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