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What's Up at Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS) in Q1 Earnings?

Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. IONS is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results on May 4.

Ionis’ track record has been disappointing so far. Over the four trailing quarters, the company posted an average negative earnings surprise of 1.21%, having beaten estimates in two quarters and missed it in the other two.

Let’s see how things are shaping up for the first quarter of 2016.

Factors to Consider

Ionis has partnerships with several leading health care companies like Biogen Inc. BIIB and GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK among others that not only validate its technology platform but also provide the company with a steady stream of funds in the form of upfront, milestone and other payments.

At the time of announcing fourth-quarter 2015 results, Ionis revealed that it had already earned $7 million in milestone payments from Biogen for progressing on the phase III program on nusinersen and on IONIS-BIIB4RX; and from Glaxo for initiating a phase I study on IONIS-HBV-LRX. This should aid revenues in the first quarter of 2016.

We remind investors that the company’s revenues fluctuate on the basis of the timing of payments under agreements with its partners.

In the to-be-reported quarter, investor focus should remain on the company’s pipeline development which includes three phase III candidates – IONIS-TTRRx (transthyretin amyloidosis), nusinersen (spinal muscular atrophy in infants and children) and volanesorsen (familial chylomicronemia syndrome and familial partial lipodystrophy). In addition, the company has several early- to mid- stage candidates.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Ionis is likely to beat estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. Unfortunately, this is not the case here, as elaborated below.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is 0.00% since the Most Accurate estimate is in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 50 cents per share.

Zacks Rank: Though Ionis has a favorable Zacks Rank #2, an ESP of 0.00% makes a surprise prediction difficult.

We caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

A Stock to Consider

Here is a health care stock that you may want to consider, as our model shows that it has the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter.

The Earnings ESP for Zoetis Inc. ZTS is +2.44% and it carries a Zacks Rank #3. The company is scheduled to release results on May 4.

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
GLAXOSMITHKLINE (GSK): Free Stock Analysis Report
BIOGEN INC (BIIB): Free Stock Analysis Report
IONIS PHARMACT (IONS): Free Stock Analysis Report
ZOETIS INC (ZTS): Free Stock Analysis Report
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