Why Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Shares Temporarily Dropped

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 Sucampo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SCMP  ) , a biotechnology company focused on the development of therapies based on proprietary prostone technology, dipped briefly by as much as 13% after reporting its first-quarter earnings results. Shares have since rebounded and are now down less than 3% as of this writing.

So what: For the quarter, Sucampo reported total revenue of $22.2 million, a 31% increase over the year-ago period, due primarily to higher royalty revenue recognized from the sale of Amitiza in the U.S. and Japan, and offset by lower reimbursements from Takeda Pharmaceuticals for its ongoing clinical studies. More importantly, operating expenses were well under control with costs of goods rising by $2.2 million to $3.5 million, but R&D dropping $0.5 million, and selling and marketing costs falling $1.8 million. All told, Sucampo reported a net profit of $0.02 per share compared to a loss of $0.08 in the year-ago quarter. Comparatively speaking, Wall Street was looking for a slightly more robust $0.04 per share profit. Sucampo also issued full-year guidance of $3 million-$5 million in GAAP EPS, or $0.06-$0.11.

Now what: Shareholders are obviously a bit disappointed with Sucampo's EPS miss, but growth in long-term constipation drug Amitiza looks as if it'll continue for some time. This means growing royalty revenue for Sucampo and the ability to boost profits by controlling costs. At a forward P/E of just 11, Sucampo appears pretty inexpensive, and it ended the quarter with $106 million in cash, cash equivalents, and restricted investments, meaning it's also well-capitalized. For biotech investors with a longer-term time horizon and the ability to stomach a little more volatility than normal, I'd suggest giving Sucampo a deeper diver.

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