Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN) stock has been on a big roll over the last few months. However, it hasn't been enough to outperform the S&P 500 index -- and Alexion's shares are still in negative territory year to date.

But Alexion provided good news to investors with its second-quarter results announced before the market opened on Thursday. Here are the highlights from the Q2 update.

Masked and gloved woman holding a red capsule between her thumb and index finger.

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Alexion reported revenue in the second quarter of $1.44 billion, a solid 20% year-over-year jump. This figure easily beat the average analysts' Q2 revenue estimate of $1.28 billion.

The company's bottom line didn't look as great, though. Alexion announced a net loss in Q2 of $1.1 billion, or $4.84 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This reflected significant deterioration from GAAP earnings of $460 million, or $2.04 per share, posted in the prior-year period.

But Wall Street pays more attention to adjusted numbers than it does GAAP results. Alexion recorded adjusted non-GAAP earnings in Q2 of $702.2 million, or $3.11 per share. This was well above the adjusted earnings of $605 million, or $2.64 per share, generated in the second quarter of 2019. It also blew past the consensus analysts' adjusted earnings estimate of $2.59 per share.

Behind the numbers

Alexion's revenue growth would have been a little better were it not for foreign exchange headwinds. According to the company, the negative impact of currency fluctuations caused its total revenue to be $15.9 million lower, or around 1%.

As usual, Soliris generated the bulk of Alexion's revenue in the second quarter. Sales of the rare-disease drug totaled $975.5 million, down slightly from sales of $980.8 million in the prior-year period. However, this decline wasn't overly concerning. Sales for Ultomiris, the heir apparent for Soliris, soared 363% year over year to $251.1 million. 

Hypophosphatasia drug Strensiq also performed well, with Q2 sales rising 30% year over year to $184.3 million. Sales for Kanuma, an enzyme therapy for treating lysosomal acid lipase deficiency, increased 28% to $33.6 million.

What caused the glaring plunge in Alexion's GAAP bottom line? The company recorded impairment charges of more than $2 billion primarily related to what it referred to as a "revised strategic view" of Kanuma.

Looking ahead

Alexion boosted its full-year 2020 guidance. The company now anticipates revenue of $5.55 billion to $5.6 billion in full-year 2020, up from its previous guidance of $5.23 billion to $5.33 billion. It projects GAAP earnings per share (EPS) between $0.96 and $1.30, down from its previous forecast of a range of $8.14 to $8.47. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be between $10.65 and $10.95, up from previous guidance of $10.45 to $10.75.

There are potential catalysts for the biotech stock in the coming months. Alexion hopes to win U.S. and European Union approval for its Ultomiris 100 mg/mL formulation. The company has several late-stage clinical studies in progress, including one evaluating Ultomiris in treating COVID-19 patients. Also, Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson said that the company plans to "return value to shareholders through an expanded stock buyback program."

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