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Achillion Hasn't Stopped Aching

Stocks in this article: ACHN

The Street will be looking for a loss of 16 cents per share on virtually no revenue. That's not an error. In the third quarter, for instance, the company didn't recognize any revenue. Nor did Achillion recognize any revenue in the year-ago quarter. Therein lays the problem with speculative biotechs.

As much as you would like to believe revenue is not an important metric, you have to remember profits don't just magically appear without sales. And how long will investors wait for this company to emerge out of this perpetual "development stage?"

Analysts have been bullish over the past quarter and have steadily raised estimates. If Achillion can continue to grow earnings, it's a great thing. But it doesn't change the fact that this company remains a speculative play, at best. Even if the numbers do come out better-than-expected, it doesn't reduce the risk.

What's important here is what management says about the company's hepatitis-C drug. This is where the emphasis must be placed. I'm curious to hear what management says about ACH-3102, which is a second-generation inhibitor of hepatitis-C. It is believed that ACH-3102 has more enhanced resistance capabilities when compared to first-generation inhibitors. I'd like to know how close the company is to development.

What's more, management has spoken highly of ACH-3422, which is a preclinical compound designed to inhibit HCV NS5B polymerase, a form of the hepatitis C virus. Management had promised to begin in-human studies of this new nomination by the first half of 2014. Any positive outlook to these drugs will be encouraging. But impressing the FDA is a separate matter.

There is some hope here. My concern, however, is with the recent exuberance in the stock. It's a mistake to buy these shares before any real announcement about when the new drugs will come to market.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL but held no position in any of the other stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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