Dendreon ($DNDN) didn't wait long to give the market a taste of its fourth-quarter results. And no wonder: The company's product revenue for the period--a.k.a. its gross sales figures for the cancer drug Provenge--came in at roughly $82 million. Even after rebates and discounts are netted out, that's probably better than the company's revised projections--and better than analysts had been expecting for the period.
The company's stock mounted by more than 40% on the news, a welcome development after August's big decline. That's when CEO Mitchell Gold said early Provenge sales forecasts were too rosy by at least half--and the company would have to lay off about 500 people to cope. The company blamed logistical problems, including reimbursement questions that made oncologists wary of the up-front risks of a $93,000 treatment. Analysts also pointed to the debut of Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) pill Zytiga, which is easier to administer than the complicated, individually tailored Provenge.
Now, full year revenue of $228 million is offering Dendreon a measure of vindication. It's not the $350 million-plus originally projected, but it's more than doubters predicted. Analysts say demand for Provenge is increasing, and the number of new Provenge outlets is growing as well. "There's a lot of exuberance today," Roth Capital analyst Joseph Pantginis told Bloomberg. "The most important thing is that people are gathering some comfort because they look like they're on the right track with regard to reimbursement. That had been a major overhang."
It looks as if Dendreon has learned something from failing to meet its early forecasts. It's predicting only modest quarter-by-quarter growth for 2012, rather than a big surge in sales--and isn't mentioning any dollar figures at all. Those may come, however, when the company releases its detailed 2011 numbers in a few weeks.