Why Ophthotech Corp. Shares Skyrocketed

Ophthotech shares soar after it finds a partner for its lead drug, fovista. Find out if shares can head even higher or if you might be better served sticking to the sidelines.

May 20, 2014 at 6:30PM

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 Ophthotech (NASDAQ:OPHT), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies to treat diseases of the back of the eye, roared higher by as much as 24% after announcing a licensing deal for lead experimental compound Fovista with Novartis (NYSE:NVS).

So what: Under the terms of the deal Ophthotech will retain all rights to Fovista within the United States with Novartis licensing the rights to the wet age-related macular degeneration drug hopeful in all other countries. The deal itself could be worth more than $1 billion in milestone and royalty payments for Ophthotech, with the company expected to receive a $200 million upfront free, as well as an additional $130 million in near-term enrollment milestone payments. The remaining milestones are comprised of $300 million in ex-U.S. approval milestones, and $400 million in ex.-U.S. sales milestones. Initial top-line data from its trial involving fovista is expected to be available sometime in 2016.

Now what: Clearly Novartis must've liked what it saw, otherwise they wouldn't have dropped a whopping $200 million upfront on Ophthotech. The wet-AMD market is expected to be a huge growth driver around the world as life expectancies continue to increase, giving wet-AMD drugs and drug hopefuls plenty of opportunity to improve patient quality of life, and make a pretty penny along the way. While this deal certainly alleviates any concerns about its funding for a long time, I'd remind investors that the company also mentioned It's two years away from even reporting its top-line phase 3 data. This means two years with very few catalysts for a clinical-stage company already valued at $1.3 billion. With that being said, it might be wise to stick to the sidelines here until we get a sizable pullback.

Ophthotech shares may have soared today, but it'll likely be hard-pressed to keep pace with this top stock over the long run
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