Here's Why BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. Catapulted Higher by as Much as 17%

By Sean Williams Markets Fool.com

What happened

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Shares of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BCRX), a biopharmaceutical company primarily focused on the development of small-molecule drugs that block enzymes associated with the development of diseases, catapulted higher by as much as 17% during Tuesday's trading session after the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings results, and released positive results from an interim analysis of its APeX-1 phase 2 clinical trial for BCX7353.

So what

Without question, the bigger catalyst today for BioCryst was the data release from its interim analysis of BCX7353 as a treatment for hereditary angioedema (HAE). The trial is examining 28 patients with type 1 or 2 HAE, of which 24 were evaluable at the interim analysis. After 28 days of once-daily treatment (11 with BCX7353 and 13 with a placebo), the BCX7353-treated subjects had an attack rate of 0.34 per week compared to 0.92 per week for the placebo, which, rounded, was good enough for a 0.57-attack-per-week improvement in weeks two through four. In the intent-to-treat population, there was a 0.47-attack-per-week reduction. Comparatively, the baseline attack rate was about one per week.

Image source: Getty Images.

Additionally, the preplanned interim analysis showed an 88% reduction in peripheral attacks and a 24% reduction in abdominal attacks, compared to the placebo, in weeks two through four.

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Following positive interim results, BioCryst has amended the study to include new dosages to better understand patient responses.

Also, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals reported its fourth-quarter and full-year results after the closing bell on Monday. Revenue for Q4 nearly doubled to $9 million from $4.6 million, as royalty revenue from peramivir and inventory sales to Seqirus increased. Net loss for the quarter shrank considerably, to just $0.06 per share, from $0.25 per share in the prior-year quarter. Overall, Wall Street had been looking for only $4.6 million in sales and a $0.24 loss per share, meaning BioCryst blew the lid off of the consensus.

Now what

Image source: Getty Images.

BioCryst certainly has some added life today, since its once-daily HAE pill met the mark of statistical significance in a planned interim analysis. The fact that BioCryst can offer a once-daily option could provide the differentiation that vaults BCX7353 into becoming a serious contender in HAE. HAE medications on the market today are given by injection, meaning a once-daily pill would likely be preferable. Plus, with HAE being a rare disease, BioCryst shouldn't have any trouble maintaining strong pricing power on the drug if it's ultimately approved.

What's more, BioCryst ended the fourth quarter with $65.1 million in cash, and in September it closed on a $23 million senior credit facility that should allow it enough of a cash runway to operate well into 2018. With cash still a concern, but not an immediate one, investors are able to focus on its clinical data and cost-control levers.

At this point, my suggestion would be to add BioCryst to your radar, but to keep a safe distance until we have more concrete late-stage data to work with.

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Sean Williams has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.