What happened

Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS), a cancer diagnostic company, gained a healthy 10% last month, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The spark?

Exact's shares surged to record highs last month thanks to a stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings report. The biotech, in fact, beat Wall Street's consensus estimates for both net loss per share and revenue for the three-month period.  

Man in a suit pointing to an upward trending series of data points on a graph.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Exact Sciences' standout quarter helped it to shrug off a dour market for biotechs at large in April. Because of the U.S. drug pricing debate, most biotech stocks took a huge step backwards last month -- regardless of their fundamentals, near-term outlook, or even product category. Exact, by contrast, kept powering higher on the strength of its novel colon cancer test, Cologuard.  

Now what

Its stellar Q1 can be directly attributed to Cologuard's rapidly expanding footprint. The company noted in its prepared remarks that a whopping 14,000 healthcare providers ordered their first Cologuard kit during the first quarter. This noteworthy bump in first-time orders resulted in a 79% boost in overall test volumes and revenue year over year, according to Exact.

While it's still early days, its co-marketing partnership with pharma heavyweight Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) for Cologuard appears to be paying dividends in a big way. Underscoring this point, the company said that Pfizer's January launch of Cologuard through its women's health field force is having a noticeable impact on the test's adoption rate. This early success bodes well for the duo's goal of capturing a 40% share of the colon cancer screening market. 

All told, Exact and partner Pfizer seem well on their way to transforming Cologuard into a megablockbuster product. Exact's stock, in kind, should continue to deliver outstanding returns on capital. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.