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MannKind Corporation Lands a New Deal -- Were Investors Right to Cheer?

By Brian Feroldi – Jan 21, 2016 at 12:52PM

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Shares jumped after news broke that MannKind has found a new partner to help it develop new products. Does this news bring clarity to the company's immediate future, or is it just smoke and mirrors?

What: Shares of MannKind (MNKD 0.45%) were off to the races today, with the stock up almost 10% as of 12:15 p.m. ET after news broke that the company has found a new a partner to help it potentially develop additional products.

So what: MannKind has signed a collaboration and license agreement with Receptor Life Sciences that could be worth up to $102.25 million if all development and commercialization milestones are met. The two companies plan on working together to create several different product candidates that utilize MannKind's technosphere platform. The initial compounds will be aimed at treating neurologic diseases, chronic pain, and inflammatory disorders.

The deal calls for MannKind to perform the initial formulation work alongside Receptor, with the latter being responsible for all development costs. If all goes well, MannKind has pledged to transfer its manufacturing technology to Receptor, which will then take ownership of all manufacturing and commercialization responsibilities. MannKind will then be eligible to receive royalties in the mid-single to low double digits on any net product sales.

As MannKind CEO Matthew Pfeffer said:

This collaboration demonstrates the fundamental value of our platform technology while the risk-sharing structure of the transaction allows us to diversify our product opportunities without losing focus on our lead program.

Now what: We knew that MannKind would be announcing a deal any day now, so seeing one finally materialize is encouraging. Still, this deal looks far from perfect, so bulls and bears alike will still have plenty to debate about the future of this company.

Bulls will point out that this deal gives the company additional optionality to commercialize new products -- as well as a chance to earn milestone payments -- all for a minimum cost. That's great news, as any potential avenue to bring in additional capital should be cheered. This deal also shows that another entity is willing to give MannKind a chance after Sanofi (SNY 0.72%) said au revoir just a few weeks ago.

Bears will point out that what MannKind really needed was a hefty up-front payment, which this deal does not include. In addition, there isn't much information out there about Receptor Life Sciences, as it is "a newly formed entity" that is "quietly laying the foundation for groundbreaking new products in the specialty pharmaceutical market." Investors were not given any information about who is behind this company and what kind of resources it has access to. Is it secretly a front for a deep-pocketed company like Sanofi that wants to remain in the shadows? Or is this newly formed company just another small start-up biotech firm that is full of promise but short on capital?

Without more information to work with, it's hard to see how this deal changes the near-term future MannKind.

The only question that should be on investors' minds right now is whether MannKind will be able to significantly expand the adoption of Afrezza after it takes full control back from Sanofi over the coming months. We won't know the answer to that question for at least several more quarters, so until we have more information to work with, I'd suggest watching this story play out from the sidelines.

Brian Feroldi has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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