Health Care Stocks to Watch Today: Amarin Corporation plc, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals

Today's top stories in biotech and health care.

May 9, 2014 at 9:00AM

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Let's take a look at today's top stories in biotech and health care. Keep an eye out for Amarin (NASDAQ:AMRN)Jazz Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:JAZZ) and Vanda Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VNDA).  

Amarin reports first-quarter earnings
The much-maligned biotech Amarin reported first-quarter earnings today, shrinking its loss per share by $0.02, but falling below consensus on revenue by $650,000. Specifically, Amarin reported this morning a loss per share of $0.16 on $11 million in revenue from sales of cardiovascular drug Vascepa for the quarter. What's interesting is that Amarin has been able to stay on target in dramatically reducing its operational expenses, while also keeping the critically important REDUCE-IT trial of Vascepa outcomes on track. The company reported that REDUCE-IT has now enrolled more than 6,800 patients. This is probably the most important news in this report, as it shows that Amarin is pushing ahead with REDUCE-IT even though the study's long-term financing is in question. 

Investors shouldn't put too much stock in the miss on revenue because Amarin was cutting back sales staff as part of its plan to reduce expenses. What will ultimately matter, near term, is Kowa Pharmaceuticals' ability to increase Vascepa sales, per its recent co-promotion deal with Amarin. We will thus have to wait and see if Kowa can improve Vascepa sales in subsequent quarters. Stay tuned!

Jazz could be in for a very bad day today
Jazz Pharmaceuticals' shares sank by mover 9% in after-hours trading yesterday following the company's fairly substantial miss on earnings and revenue. The Street was expecting earnings per share of $1.79 and revenue of $254.86 million. Per the company's release, Jazz's first-quarter earnings per share came in at $1.61 on $246.9 million in revenue.   

The good news is that Jazz's top two products, Xyrem and Erwinaze, both posted double-digit growth in sales for the quarter, compared to the same period a year ago. Although it's not entirely clear why Jazz missed on revenue, it appears to be partly the result of lower than expected sales of other products such as Prialt and psychiatric drugs. Earnings appear to have also been affected by higher expenses.

What's my take? I thought that analysts were a tad too optimistic going into the quarter. Jazz posted 26% growth in revenue year over year, but the Street was expecting growth to come in closer to 29%. If Jazz falls hard today, you might want to consider taking a long hard look at this orphan drug specialist that is growing revenue at a healthy clip.  

Can Vanda rebound today?
Shares of Vanda Pharmaceuticals sank by over 20% yesterday after the company reported a first-quarter net loss per share of $0.79.Analysts had projected a loss of $0.30 per share. The wider than expected loss appears to be the result of expenses associated with the commercial launch of Vanda's newly approved sleep disorder drug Hetlioz. Indeed, Vanda reported that selling, general, and administrative expenses came in at $27.9 million for the first quarter of 2014, which was $23.7 million higher than the same period a year ago.

Given that Vanda literally just launched this drug, and it's generally expensive to launch new drugs, I'd argue that the stock plunge is an overreaction by yesterday's particularly moody market. But with the drug now on the market in the U.S., and potential European approval for Hetlioz on the horizon, yesterday's dramatic sell-off created an intriguing entry point for this stock. So you might want to dig deeper into Vanda. 

Warren Buffett just bought nearly 9 million shares of this company
Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report details this company that already has over 50% market share. Just click HERE to discover more about this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable landslide of profits!

George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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