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Why Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc Plunged 36% in January

By Brian Feroldi – Feb 6, 2016 at 9:18AM

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Sometimes bad things can happen to good companies.

What: Shares of Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS -1.32%) had a rough January as shares dropped more than 36% during the month, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

IONS Chart

So what: Everything related to biopharmaceutical dropped precipitously during the month of January, so it wasn't surprising to see Ionis get caught in the storm. Still, the company had plenty of good news to share with investors during the month:

  • Ionis confirmed that IONIS-HTT Rx, its potential treatment for Huntington's disease, received Orphan Drug designation in both the U.S. and EU.
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -1.72%) announced that it initiated a Phase 1 study of IONIS-HBX-L Rx, which triggered a $1.5 million milestone payment to Ionis. GlaxoSmithKline plans to study this compound as a potential treatment for Hepatitis B, and it represents the second compound that the two companies have put into trials. The release also confirmed that GlaxoSmithKline plans to advance its other Hepatitis B compound, called IONIS-HBV, into Phase 2 trials.
  • Ionis earned a $2.15 million milestone payment from Biogen as its Phase 3 CHERISH study reached its target enrollment size. The CHERISh study is testing a compound called nusinersen as a new treatment option for patients with spinal muscular atrophy.
  • Ionis presented at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, where it announced that its 2015 net operating loss was going to come in "in the low $20 million range," representing a 60% improvement over its original guidance. The company also reminded investors that it added nine new drugs to its pipeline during the year, bringing its total to 38, and it ended the year with more than $775 million in cash on its books.

Now what: When the stock market gets a cold, biotechnology stocks tend to get the flu, so there isn't much that investors in the space can do but sit by and watch the carnage.

With 38 drugs in development and a cash-rich balance sheet, Ionis is still one of the best-positioned biopharmaceutical companies out there. Investors with a stomach for volatility might want to give this company a closer look.

Brian Feroldi has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Ionis Pharmaceuticals. 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.

Stocks Mentioned

Gsk Plc Stock Quote
Gsk Plc
GSK
$35.97 (-1.72%) $0.63
Ionis Pharmaceuticals Stock Quote
Ionis Pharmaceuticals
IONS
$37.50 (-1.32%) $0.50

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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