Why Questcor Pharmaceuticals' Shares Popped


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.

What: Shares of biopharmaceutical company Questcor Pharmaceuticals (NAS: QCOR) jumped as much as 11% in intraday trading Tuesday following positive analyst comments from Jefferies, as well as an upgrade from the research firm.

So what: The covering analyst at Jefferies, Biren Amin, bumped up his rating on the company to "buy" from "hold" while boosting his price target to $28. The reasoning behind the move, according to Amin, is that investors have become too pessimistic with regard to Questcor's leading -- but expensive -- drug, Acthar, being dropped by insurers. Currently, only Aetna (NYS: AET) has said it was dropping coverage on all but one indication of the drug. In addition, Amin points out that Medicaid will be reducing the reimbursement rate for Acthar, which should net Questcor more in revenue since it had been forced to pay full rebates to state Medicaid programs that purchased the drug.

Now what: Eight simple words here are all you need to know: The U.S. government is probing its marketing practices. With that dark cloud hanging over Questcor, none of this white noise matters very much. Analyst upgrades and downgrades tend to be very short-term movers of a company to begin with and usually have very little bearing on the investment thesis of a stock.

What matters is that previous government probes resulted in hefty fines of $2.2 billion to Johnson & Johnson (NYS: JNJ) and $780 million to Amgen (NAS: AMGN) , and could result in a whopper of a fine for Questcor if its deemed that it improperly priced its Acthar at $33,000 per treatment across all indications while relying on the protection of its orphan-drug status. To me, these are risks that can easily be avoided by avoiding the stock altogether.

Craving more input? Start by adding Questcor Pharmaceuticals to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

The article Why Questcor Pharmaceuticals' Shares Popped originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of, and creating a diagonal call position in, Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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