Eyeing Biotech's Newest Darling

"Management thinks Eylea can bring in $140 million to $160 million in sales this year, although I'd guess that's a conservative estimate and they're hoping for more."
-- Me

Oh, what a difference a month makes.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NAS: REGN) upped its sales guidance for the age-related macular degeneration treatment to $250 million to $300 million this year. At the top, that's a doubling of expected revenue.

"This year's sales aren't enough to justify Regeneron's $7 billion market cap on their own."

Yup, me again.

Regneneron's market cap is up to $10.5 billion now. That's great for investors that have held shares over the last month. And it's not too surprising considering the recent lackluster launches of Dendreon's (NAS: DNDN) Provenge and Benlysta from Human Genome Sciences (NAS: HGSI) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYS: GSK) . It's easier to become biotech's new darling with the bar set lower by Provenge and Benlysta.

But Regeneron has entered the be-careful valuation range. A price to sales ratio of 35 at the high end of guidance is a bit pricey. Technically, it's come down from the 43-plus when the original guidance was released, but as I said last month, that looked pretty conservative.

Of course, the ultimate valuation -- and therefore the ultimate returns for long-term investors -- won't be based on the sales this year or even the ramp up over the next few years, but rather the peak sales that Eylea and its pipeline can achieve. I'm not convinced Regeneron deserves the nearly 50% increase it has experienced over the last month because I'm not convinced the new sales info really changes the peak sales potential.

Sales guidance could double again next month, but I wouldn't count on it. I've made an underperform CAPScall on the stock. It's not a knock on Eylea or the rest of the pipeline, but I think there's probably better places to put your money while Regeneron grows into its new, larger britches.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dendreon. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of GlaxoSmithKline. 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.

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