Usually with a biotech stock you trade the present for the future: no revenue now but the promise of big revenue to come.
Incyte’s (INCY) most recent quarter, reported on February 14, doesn’t require that trade off. Which means investors should be asking a different set of questions about the future of the company.
For the quarter revenue climbed to $326.5 million, up 33.9% year over year. That was just slightly below the Wall Street consensus of $327 million. For the 2016 year revenue climbed to $1.105 billion, up 46.7% year over year.
Earnings did indeed disappoint at 5 cents a share, 18 cents a share below the Wall Street consensus. But remarkably the stock didn’t plunge. In fact, it barely budged going from its February 14 close at $123.32 to $120.18 on February 16. The shares closed at $120.49 on February 17.
That was because the extra spending came on R&D and right now Wall Street has decided that higher spending on Incyte’s pipeline of drug candidates is a very good thing indeed.
Like it would with a “real” drug company Wall Street is asking What’s the likely return on that R&D investment? And right now it likes the answer.
Incyte’s current revenue comes from the explosive growth of Jakafi (ruxolitinib). In the fourth quarter of 2016 Jakafi revenue came to $238 million and for 2017 Incyte is projecting that net product revenue will increase to $1.02 to $1.07 billion. That would be a 7% to 13% rate of growth above the run rate in the fourth quarter. Sales of Jakafi, used to treat myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce blood cells, look to be approaching a big inflection point as Jakafi gains approval to treat other bone marrow disorders. (It also doesn’t hurt that a big potential rival to Jakafi failed a Phase 3 trial in November.)
But Jakafi isn’t the whole story at Inctye. In fact it’s not even the most exciting part of the story.
There’s baricintinib–marketed by Incyte and its partner Eli Lilly (LLY) as Olumiant–used to treatment of moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis. The drug, a JAK inhibitor, has been approved in the European Union and looks likely to win approval in the United States in the second quarter. Olumiant targets the same market as the blockbuster Humira (more than $10 billion in sales) but with the advantage that it’s a oral pill versus an injection.
And then there’s the company’s very, very promising oncology pipeline. Which includes epacadostat, a checkpoint inhibitor, now in trials with Merck’s (MRK) Keytruda in first-line treatment for melanoma, advanced lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, head and neck cancer, and bladder cancer. It’s likely that key data from the trials will be released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago in June.
You can see why Wall Street might see higher R&D spending as a plus. (And by the way the company finished the December quarter with $809 million in cash and cash equivalents, up from $708 million on December 31, 2015.)
Incyte is a member of my 12-18 month Jubak Picks portfolio. The stock is up 170.5% since I added it to this portfolio on April 17, 2014. As of February 20, I’m raised my target price to $142 a share from the previous target of $125.