Why Dendreon Corporation Shares Were Hammered

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 Dendreon (NASDAQOTH: DNDNQ  ) , a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing immunotherapy vaccines to treat cancer, dipped as much as 15% after reporting disappointing first-quarter earnings results, and receiving a subsequent analyst downgrade.

So what: For the quarter, Dendreon delivered product revenue from its late-stage prostate cancer vaccine Provenge, of $68.8 million, up slightly from the $67.6 million it reported in the prior-year period. Net loss was nearly halved, to $36.4 million, or $0.24 per share, from $72 million, or $0.48 per share, following its second restructuring in as many years aimed at cutting costs. It also ended the quarter with approximately $170 million in cash, cash equivalents, and investments. Comparatively, Wall Street expected a wider loss of $0.28 per share, but had been expecting $69.1 million in revenue. In spite of the revenue miss, it was the first quarter of year-over-year sales growth in some time.

In response to its earnings release, Maxim Group downgraded the company to hold from buy, and set a $1 price target on shares. However, if someone can explain Maxim's logic of how a greater-than-50% expected drop in Dendreon's share price equates to a hold rating, I'd love to hear it!

Now what: On the surface, there are snippets of good news for optimists to wrap their hands around, including Dendreon's reduced cash burn rate of $30 million for the quarter, and its improved year-over-year sales. But the reality is that the competition in the advanced prostate cancer space is so fierce that even with a second round of cost cutting, it's not ensured that Dendreon will ever be profitable. Investors and I were both looking for a much bigger boost from Provenge sales given that its top-line targeted accounts surged to 93 in Q1 2014 compared to 54 in Q1 2013. Based on this data, I see no enticing reasons to buy into Dendreon's shares here, and would suggest staying away from this still-sinking ship.

Dendreon may still have a chance to rebound; but even if it does it'll likely be no match for this top stock over the long run
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