Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IONS)

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Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IONS)

Q4 2017 Results Earnings Conference Call

February 27, 2018, 11:30 AM ET


Wade Walke - VP, Corporate Communications and IR

Stanley Crooke - Chairman and CEO

Sarah Boyce - CBO

Brett Monia - COO and SVP, Antisense Drug Discovery and Translational Medicine

Elizabeth Hougen - SVP, Finance and CFO


Yanan Zhu - Wells Fargo

Chad Messer - Needham & Company, LLC

Joshua Schimmer - Evercore ISI

Jessica Fye - JP Morgan

Eric Schmidt - Cowen & Company

Stephen Willey - Stifel

Gena Wang - Barclays

Yale Jen - Laidlaw & Company



Good morning and welcome to Ionis Pharmaceuticals 2017 Financial Results Conference Call. As a reminder, this call is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Wade Walke, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations to lead off the call. Please begin.

Wade Walke

Thank you. Good morning. Thank you for joining us on today's call. With me today, we have Stan Crooke, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Boyce, Chief Business Officer, Brett Monia, our new Chief Operating Officer, and Beth Hougen, Chief Financial Officer. We also have Lynne Parshall joining us for Q&A.

As a reminder to everyone that this conference call includes forward-looking statements regarding the financial outlook for Ionis, Ionis' business, the business of Akcea Therapeutics and the therapeutic and commercial potential of Ionis' technologies and products in development.

Any statement describing Ionis' goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs, including the commercial potential of SPINRAZA, inotersen, and volanesorsen, is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement.

Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, particularly those inherent in the process of discovering, developing and commercializing drugs that are safe and effective to use as human therapeutics and any endeavor of building a business around such drugs.

Ionis' forward-looking statements also involve assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove correct, could cause its results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Although Ionis' forward-looking statements reflect the good-faith judgment of its management, these statements are based only on facts and factors currently known by Ionis.

As a result, you're cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These and other risks concerning Ionis' programs are described in additional detail in Ionis' Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31st, 2016, and on the most recent quarterly filing which are on file with the SEC. Copies of these and other documents are readily available from the company as well.

And with that, I'll turn the call over to Stan.

Stanley Crooke

Thanks Wade and good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us on today's call. 2017 was an important year for Ionis, our antisense technology led to the discovery and development of SPINRAZA and the launch has been one of the most successful rare disease drug launches ever. All of us know that we are privileged to have been involved with fundamentally changing the lives of SMA patients and their families.

Having submitted regulatory filings for inotersen and volanesorsen, we look forward to bringing substantial benefit to change as with TTR amyloidosis and FCS in the near future.

Ionis is now on the verge of achieving our goal of being a multiproduct profitable company with innovation at our core. This is our strongest financial position ever. With 2017 revenues exceeding $500 million and cash exceeding $1 billion.

For the second year in a row, we are profitable with pro forma operating profit in 2017 of more than $110 million. This success is driven by the strength of our business strategy, which leverages numerous sources of revenue with multiple opportunities for upside while reducing risk.

As our partners advance, dollars for dollars we receive from partners increased, as reflected in our strengthening financial performance. For example, we recently earned $30 million from AstraZeneca when they licensed a new antisense drug to treat patients with kidney disease and $45 million from Roche, when they licensed our drug to treat patients with Huntington's disease.

Our highly productive antisense platform has led to a broad and deep pipeline of first-in-class and best-in-class drugs. We pursue the development plan for each of the drugs in our pipeline that we believe will create the most commercial value.

We have the flexibility to commercialize our drugs through Ionis commercial affiliates, as we're doing with volanesorsen or to identify strategic value-driven partnerships that leverage our partner's resources, disease expertise, and commercial infrastructure as we're doing with our drugs targeting Factor XI with Bayer and our LICA drugs, targeting LP(a) and APOCIII with Novartis and Akcea.

Our collaboration with Biogen is a good example of synergy. Innovation represented by SPINRAZA and the value it's providing to patients with SMA were recognized when Ionis and Biogen were awarded the prestigious Prix Galien prize for SPINRAZA. Working together with Biogen, we've been able to achieve what neither company could achieve alone.

As we move into 2018 and beyond, we look forward to realizing even more of the broad potential of our Ionis platform. Our increasing financial strength provides us with the flexibility to advance, broaden and deepen our pipeline, retain our drugs longer, and build an ever growing pipeline of drugs we tend to commercialize through commercial affiliates.

And as we invest our pipeline of antisense drugs and achieving important milestones on our collaboration, we expect to continue to provide substantial and increasing value to the patients we serve and to our shareholders.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com