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Why InterMune Inc. Shares Jumped

By Sean Williams – Mar 21, 2014 at 8:35AM

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InterMune shares soared after a rival posts abstract results from two late-stage studies involving its experimental idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of InterMune (ITMN.DL), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies to treat orphan fibrotic diseases, jumped as much as 17% after privately held rival Boehringer Ingelheim unveiled results from its two late-stage studies involving nintedanib as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF.

So what: According to an abstract posted to the website of the American Thoracic Society (the 3:25 p.m. time slot for those interested), Boehringer Ingelheim's nintedanib hit its primary endpoint of significantly reducing the annual rate of decline in forced vital capacity in both its INPULSIS-1 and INPULSIS-2 studies. It also delivered a similar safety profile relative to the control arm. But the INPULSIS-1 study failed to meet a key secondary endpoint of improving overall health and reducing flare-ups of the disease. Investors have taken this minor shortfall as a reason to believe that InterMune's Esbriet (known also as pirfenidone) might therefore be the first-in-line and/or superior therapy of the two.

Now what: This could ultimately wind up being exciting news for InterMune, but this is merely an abstract and we don't have the full data set to even try and attempt to compare the two IPF therapies as of yet. Until we have that data it's probably best to hold off on declaring InterMune's Esbriet the king of the jungle. In addition, based on a wide range of peak sales estimates, with InterMune currently valued at anywhere from three to 10 times global peak sales estimates of Esbriet, I would suggest shareholders remain cautious as there could be more downside potential built into its shares than upside at this point.

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

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