Image source: Exact Sciences.

What: After announcing recently that management hired a former Baird research analyst in a key role, and a day before presenting at William Blair's 36th annual growth stock conference, shares in Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS) surged 33% higher today.

So what: Exact Sciences shares are gaining ground, but today's rally follows a significant decline in the company's share price since the launch of Cologuard, the company's colon cancer screening test. 

EXAS Chart

EXAS data by YCharts.

The company didn't report any news today, but it did announce the appointment of Jeff Elliott to a senior role earlier this month, and management's calendar has been packed with investor conferences that could be factoring into the move higher.

Elliott, a former senior research analyst who covered the diagnostic and lab industries for Baird, is being tasked with identifying and pursuing strategic business opportunities for Exact Sciences, and while management didn't specifically say what opportunities Elliott will be evaluating, it could be that he's pursuing collaborations, licensing, or a business combination. 

The company's Cologuard does very good job at screening for colon cancer, but winning reimbursement has been more challenging than expected, and despite a significant increase in screenings, spending continues to significantly outpace revenue. It's possible the hiring of Elliott signals that the C-suite is willing to entertain deals that could take some of the burden off of the company's balance sheet.

Exact Sciences has also been aggressively making its case with investors this month. On June 8, the company was at Goldman Sachs' 37th Annual Global Healthcare Conference, and on June 9, management presented at Jefferies Healthcare Conference. Tomorrow, CEO Kevin Conroy is scheduled to appear at William Blair's 36th Annual Growth Stock Conference in Chicago.

Now what: Sellers were holding 22% of the company's share float short entering today, and given today's move, it wouldn't be surprising if some sellers have decided to cover their positions ahead of tomorrow's presentation.

At this conference, management will probably reinforce the potential for a more than doubling in Cologuard tests and sales this year. Last year, the company completed 104,000 tests, and this year, management expects to complete more than 240,000 screenings. If Exact Sciences completes that many tests, it expects sales will reach at least $90 million, up from $39.4 million last year.

Overall, the potential to provide regular screenings to an increasingly larger and longer-living population of baby boomers has management pegging Cologuard's addressable market at $4 billion. That's undeniably a big market opportunity, but investors might want to temper some of their enthusiasm, because even if the company executes on its sales goals for 2016, it will still lose money. Total operating costs exited Q1 at an annualized $216 million. 

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