Chalk up another epic quarter for GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH). The cannabis-focused biotech posted results in the first quarter that blew past expectations. And GW did it again with the announcement of its second-quarter results after the market closed on Tuesday.
Shares soared more than 10% in after-hours trading as investors celebrated another great performance from GW Pharmaceuticals. Here are three things you'll definitely want to know about those sizzling Q2 results.
1. Epidiolex sustains its tremendous momentum
GW Pharmaceuticals vice president for investor relations Stephen Schultz seemed to try to temper expectations for Epidiolex in Q2 during his comments at the 2019 Goldman Sachs Global Healthcare Conference in June. While he suggested that the significant demand for the cannabidiol (CBD) drug would continue, he added that Epidiolex would probably "settle into an organic prescription number that's a little more normal" than the huge sales number reported in the first quarter.
That "more normal" sales figure turned out to be double the sales reported for Epidiolex in Q1. GW announced net sales of Epidiolex totaled $68.4 million in the second quarter. The company's total revenue was a little over $72 million. The average analysts' Q2 revenue estimate was around $47 million.
In a nutshell, everything is looking great for Epidiolex at this point. Over 12,000 patients have received Epidiolex since its launch late last year with over 2,500 physicians prescribing the drug during that period. GW said that the "vast majority" of those patients remain on the therapy. Payers don't appear to be balking at covering the drug, with around 93% of all commercial, Medicaid, and Medicare lives in the U.S. covered.
2. Lo and behold, a profit
Over the last several years, GW Pharmaceuticals has racked up huge losses -- well over $500 million in total. Investors pretty much became accustomed to the biotech reported a net loss each quarter. But lo and behold, GW announced a big, fat profit in the second quarter.
The company posted net income of $79.7 million, or $0.21 per share, in Q2. Before you get too excited, though, there's an asterisk with that profit. GW recorded $104.1 million in other income resulting from its sale of a Rare Pediatric Priority Review Voucher in the second quarter. Without this one-time gain, the company would have again reported a quarterly loss.
However, GW Pharmaceuticals' operating loss of $29.3 million reflected a significant improvement from the $81.4 million operating loss in the prior-year period. If Epidiolex keeps up its winning ways, the company shouldn't be too far away from becoming profitable without the need for any asterisks.
3. A boatload of cash
There weren't any gotchas with GW Pharmaceuticals' cash position. The company continues to sit on a boatload of cash, reporting cash and cash equivalents totaling $583.7 million as of June 30, 2019. That's only slightly lower than the $591.5 million on hand at the end of 2018.
It's a foregone conclusion that GW will burn through more of its cash in future quarters, though. The company won't have the benefit of that big gain from the sale of the priority review voucher. Its research and development expenses will also likely pick up as it cranks up additional clinical studies.
Still, GW Pharmaceuticals continues to enjoy a strong balance sheet. It has less than $30 million in long-term liabilities. And its big cash stockpile should mean that investors won't have to worry about dilution resulting from the company issuing new stock.
More good news could be on the way
GW Pharmaceuticals could very well have more good news coming soon. The biotech expects to win European approval for Epidiolex in treating Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) in early October. GW hopes to launch the drug in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in the fourth quarter of 2019, followed by launches in Spain and Italy in 2020.
The company also is making significant pipeline progress. It's recruiting patients for a phase 3 study evaluating Epidiolex in treating Rett syndrome. GW plans to kick off a pivotal clinical study evaluating Sativex in treating multiple sclerosis spasticity in Q4 with hopes of securing U.S. approval. In addition, the company expects to begin recruitment for a study of cannabidivarin (CBDV) in treating autism by the end of this year.
GW Pharmaceuticals ranks as one of the best-performing cannabis stocks on the market so far in 2019. It doesn't appear to show any signs of slowing down yet.