What happened

In response to the company reporting expectation-topping first-quarter results and sharing upbeat pipeline news, shares of Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) jumped 12% as of 3:15 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

So what

Here's a review of the key takeaways from the first quarter:

  • Revenue jumped 7% to $931 million. That was ahead of the $923 million in revenue that Wall Street had predicted.
  • Adjusted earnings were $1.68 per share. By contrast, analysts were only expecting $1.50.
  • The company shared top-line results from a phase 3 study of ALXN1210, which is a long-acting version of Alexion's blockbuster drug Soliris. The study showed that patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) can be effectively and safely switched from Soliris to ALXN1210. That's great news, because patients will only have to receive treatment every eight weeks when using ALXN1210 instead of every two weeks on Soliris.

The upbeat first-quarter results caused management to raise its guidance for the full year:

Metric Old Guidance Updated Guidance
2018 Revenue $3.850 billion to $3.950 billion $3.925 billion to $3.985 billion
Non-GAAP Earnings $6.60 to $6.80 $6.75 to $6.90

Data source: Alexion Pharmaceuticals. GAAP = generally accepted accounting principles.

Given the strong quarterly results, exciting clinical news, and bullish guidance, it isn't hard to figure out why Alexion is soaring today.

Man with money in his hands

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

It's been a couple of tumultuous years for Alexion's shareholders, so it's nice to see that the company might finally be back on its feet. The upbeat news on ALXN1210 is especially exciting since, if approved, the drug could help the company get out ahead of the encroaching competition.

So is Alexion finally a buy? I'm not convinced that the answer to that question is "yes" just yet. However, if the company can produce a few more quarters like this, I'd be happy to change my tune.