Is MannKind Running Out of Time?

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The clock is ticking for MannKind Corp. (NAS: MNKD) . While the company has long been aiming for FDA approval of its inhaled insulin drug, Afrezza, it is down to its last $25.3 million in cash, compared to its $70.4 million cash position at the end of last year.

MannKind plans to meet with the FDA Wednesday to discuss Afrezza's fate. Without any other drugs on the market, and Afrezza being the company's primary focus, it has an awful lot riding in the hands of the FDA, which can make or break a company's ability to sell its products. Executives weren't able to provide much clarity about its discussions with regulators, which may have rattled investors.

MannKind is burning through cash, months after laying off 41% of its workforce to slim down costs while the company focused primarily on obtaining FDA approval. Last quarter, it consumed roughly $39.2 million in operating expenses, including $30.3 million that went to R&D. Management is optimistic that it can fund operations through the first quarter of 2012 when including its existing credit facilities.

Although the company hasn't announced plans to raise additional equity capital, it may not have much choice if it continues to run into delays. With the stock's price so low, the company would have to sell a large number of shares to raise the cash it needs, which could substantially dilute existing shareholders.

Because of that, there are better places to invest in biotech. Bellwether Pfizer (NYS: PFE) has a wide stable of products, so it doesn't have to rely on the fate of one drug. It still has to cross paths with the FDA, but it has less riding on each product. Pfizer is also trading at much more attractive multiples and pays a healthy dividend yield.

Small pharmaceutical companies are notoriously volatile due to the regulatory hurdles they face. Even if MannKind hits it big with Afrezza, the risks are likely to outweigh the rewards. In my opinion, your money is better off somewhere else.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorEvan Niuholds no position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Pfizer. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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