Why Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. Shot Higher Today

By Markets Fool.com

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.

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What: Shares in Inovio Pharmaceuticals jumped by more than 15% today after reporting fourth quarter financial results and revealing that it had received a grant to expand its HIV vaccine research.

So what: The clinical stage company collected $2.5 million in revenue from grants and collaboration partners in the fourth quarter, bringing its full year revenue to $10.5 million. For comparison, Inovio reported $1.7 million and $13.5 million in sales for those same periods in 2013.

The year-over-year decline in revenue stems mainly from the recording of an upfront payment in 2013 from Roche Holdings as part of a previously announced agreement to collaborate on Inovio's prostate cancer and hepatitis B vaccine. Roche handed back its rights to the prostate cancer drug last year, but it continues to work with Inovio on the hepatitis B program.

During the quarter, Inovio's operating expenses were $13.5 million, up from $9.7 million a year ago. Full year operating expenses totaled $50 million, up from $33 million in 2013.

As a result, Inovio's net loss in the fourth quarter was $7.4 million, or -$0.12 per share, and its loss for the full year was $36.1 million, or -$0.61 per share. In 2013, the company's net loss was $15.5 million and $66 million in the comparable periods, respectively. Overall, the company's net loss per share in the quarter was $0.02 better than Wall Street forecasts.

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Since the company continues to lose money, investors' enthusiasm likely stems more from optimism for Inovio's pipeline and news that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has awarded the company a $16 million, five-year grant to broaden the number of HIV strains it's researching for its Pennvax HIV vaccine program. Previously, the agency had awarded Inovio a $25 million research grant.

Now what: Inovio has a lot of DNA vaccine candidates in its pipeline, but none are further along in clinical trials than phase 2. Its most advanced vaccine is VGX-3100 for cervical dysplasia, a common cause of cervical cancer. Phase 2 trial results for VGX-3100 were promising enough that Inovio plans to usher it into phase 3 trials next year. Aside from VGX-3100, Inovio plans to launch phase 1 trials for its hepatitis B vaccine and its Pennvax HIV vaccine this year.

Although the company has some intriguing vaccine programs under way, Inovio has a lot work remaining before it can bring any of them to market. That could mean that its expenses and losses continue to climb. For that reason, investors may want to wait for more late stage trial data before chasing this one any higher.

The article Why Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. Shot Higher Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd owns E.B. Capital Markets, LLC. E.B. Capital's clients may or may not have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.