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Here's Why Ionis Pharmaceuticals Jumped Higher Today

By Brian Orelli, PhD – Updated Apr 18, 2019 at 5:02PM

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Fourth-quarter earnings exceed expectations.

What happened

Shares of Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS 1.07%) are up 14% at 2:03 p.m. EST after the company released fourth-quarter earnings that beat management's expectations. Revenue jumped 14% year over year in the fourth quarter. And the biotech recorded a whopping $320 million in profit for the quarter, although most of that was due to a one-time $292 million tax benefit, because the company determined it's likely to be able to utilize most of the deferred income tax assets that it's accumulated over the decades it lost money that can offset future taxable income. 

Doctor with hand on a patient's shoulder.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Ionis booked $70 million in royalties from Biogen (BIIB 0.79%) for sales of the latter's spinal muscular atrophy drug Spinraza. Royalties jumped from $52 million in the year-ago quarter, as Biogen has moved into treating adults with the disease.

Tegsedi, which Ionis' spinoff, Akcea Therapeutics (AKCA), sells for the treatment of polyneuropathy of hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis, added an additional $2 million in revenue. That's net sales, not royalties like for Spinraza, because Ionis is still a majority shareholder in Akcea, so the company's finances are folded into Ionis' profit-and-loss statement.

The company also booked $119 million in research-and-development revenue. Much of that is from deals that Ionis did years ago, but they get amortized over the life of the deals. 

Check out he latest Ionis earnings call transcript.

Now what

For this year, management is looking for revenue to exceed $725 million, a substantial increase on the $600 million Ionis booked last year. The company expects to have over $100 million in operating profit this year and to end the year with approximately $2 billion in cash, which should allow for future investment.

Brian Orelli has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Biogen and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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