Before the market opened on Wednesday, MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD) did what every publicly traded company has to do: It released its quarterly results. But MannKind isn't like most companies. Very little in its third-quarter results really mattered, except for one enormously important number.

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What didn't matter much

At first glance, you might think that MannKind had several results in the third quarter that mattered. The biotech reported third-quarter revenue of $162.4 million. That's a lot better than the zero revenue the biotech recorded in the prior year period.

Because of this revenue, MannKind was also able to post earnings of $126.5 million, or $0.26 per share, during the third quarter. This figure marked a drastic improvement from the $31.9 million, or $0.08 per share, net loss reported in the same quarter of 2015.

So why aren't these revenue and earnings numbers important? Because they reflect a last gasp of sorts. Most of the revenue ($161.8 million) came from the company's collaboration with Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) that doesn't exist any longer. Sanofi announced that it was ending the relationship in January, telling Bloomberg that MannKind's inhaled insulin Afrezza "never met even modest expectations, and we do not project Afrezza reaching even the lowest patient levels anticipated."

Afrezza did generate nominal sales during the third quarter of $573,000. MannKind began distributing the drug in late July after transitioning from Sanofi.  

What really matters

There was one number that really matters in MannKind's third-quarter results: cash. The company reported cash and cash equivalents as of Sept. 30 of $35.5 million. That's down from $59.1 million at the end of 2015.

If MannKind could continue reporting revenue and earnings like it did in the third quarter, that cash position wouldn't be concerning. But the company can't pull off a repeat performance. And the cash position is very concerning.

MannKind might be able to eke out another few quarters before it will need more money. The company does have $30.1 million available to borrow through an existing loan arrangement with The Mann Group. There's also another $50 million that MannKind can raise through a public offering under an existing at-the-market facility.

The company's loan agreement with Deerfield Private Design Fund requires MannKind to maintain a cash and cash equivalents balance (including available borrowing from The Mann Group) at the end of each quarter of at least $25 million. This means that MannKind will inevitably need to sell more shares.

MannKind summed up its problem pretty well in the third-quarter 10-Q filing to the SEC: "It may be difficult for us to raise additional funds on favorable terms, or at all." Generating the additional cash needed won't be easy. 

Looking ahead

Nothing is impossible. Hey, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after being down three games to one. However, MannKind would have to overcome enormous odds to make a comeback.

Finding another partner for Afrezza would be huge. However, the prospects of that seem unlikely in the near term after Sanofi threw in the towel in a dramatic fashion. MannKind's primary mission is to simply survive to fight another day. The company has enough cash to do so for now. And that's what matters most from MannKind's third-quarter results.

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