Not many companies have such storied histories as to warrant a book being written about them. Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation Vertex Pharmaceuticals
This has been one of the most industrious quarters for the company from both a financial and scientific standpoint. First, Vertex released blowout phase 2 results on its drug VX-950, to treat hepatitis C (HCV). The drug was clearly effective in reducing levels of HCV in the body and displayed no major side effects, albeit in only a short period of dosing.
Then less than a month later, as if to show that the company is not just tresbien on only the scientific front, Vertex signed a very favorable collaboration and marketing agreement for VX-950 with Johnson & Johnson
This commercialization agreement with J&J is very important for Vertex, since the company is burning through cash at an extremely rapid rate. Smartly, Vertex got J&J to pony up $165 million in cash plus also pay for half of development expenses related to VX-950.
In the latest quarter, Vertex received only $30 million in revenues but spent $91 million on research-and-development expenses alone. The company has guided for R&D expenses to be in the range of $375 million to $395 million for the year. With the added cash cushion from J&J, though, Vertex should end the year with more than $400 million in cash and equivalents.
Since VX-950 is so early in development and the company does not plan on filing a new drug application with the FDA until 2008 at the earliest, all the money that J&J is bringing to Vertex will thankfully minimize future share dilution that Vertex investors have to go through on the road to getting the drug marketed in late 2008 or early 2009.
The other news with VX-950 is that sometime in the mid- to late fourth quarter, Vertex will release initial data from a trial dosing 80 patients with the drug. In 2007, there will be a steady stream of more trial results for the drug.
Vertex is not just about VX-950, but make no bones about it -- the company is valued at more than $3.7 billion primarily because of this drug. I can't remember any drug generating this type of excitement over its results in such early clinical development.
Vertex does have some potential competition in the HCV space from companies such as Idenix Pharmaceuticals
For further reading on Vertex, check out:
Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor recommendation.