Is Wall Street Misjudging Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS) Stock?

Falling -4.5% today, shares of Ionis Pharmaceuticals are giving us reason to question their average rating of buy. Did analysts get things wrong about this stock? Let's dive into the numbers to see whether IONS is overvalued at today's price of $45.0 per share.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals has a P/E ratio of -16.9 based on its 12 month trailing earnings per share of $-2.67. Considering its future earnings estimates of $-3.2 per share, the stock's forward P/E ratio is -14.1. In comparison, the average P/E ratio of the Health Care sector is 27.53 and the average P/E ratio of the S&P 500 is 27.65.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals's P/E ratio tells us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of the company's earnings. The problem with this metric is that it doesn't take into account the expected growth in earnings of the stock. Sometimes elevated P/E ratios can be justified by equally elevated growth expectations.

We can solve this inconsistency by dividing the company's trailing P/E ratio by its five year earnings growth estimate, which in this case gives us a -0.34 Price to Earnings Growth (PEG) ratio. Since the PEG ratio is negative, the company's lofty valuation is not justified by its growth levels.

We can also compare the ratio of Ionis Pharmaceuticals's market price to its book value, which gives us the price to book, or P/B ratio. A company's book value refers to its present equity value -- or what is left over when we subtract its liabilities from its assets. IONS has a P/B ratio of 22.13, with any figure close to or below one indicating a potentially undervalued company.

A comparison of the share price versus company earnings and book value should be balanced by an analysis of the company's ability to pay its liabilities. One popular metric is the Quick Ratio, or Acid Test, which is the company's current assets minus its inventory and prepaid expenses divided by its current liabilities. Ionis Pharmaceuticals's quick ratio is 6.775. Generally speaking, a quick ratio above 1 signifies that the company is able to meet its liabilities.

The last factor we will review in our value analysis of Ionis Pharmaceuticals is its levered free cash flow, which is negative at $-331318000. The levered free cash flow represents the sum of all of the company's inflows and outflows of capital in the last quarter. A negative value means that Ionis Pharmaceuticals has no cash left over to re-invest in the business or to pay equity investors in the form of a dividend.

With most indicators pointing at a higher than average valuation with uncertain growth prospects, most analysts are either wrong about Ionis Pharmaceuticals, or their research has uncovered one or more qualitative reasons to invest in the stock. For example, the strength of the management team and their plan for executing the business strategy may have convinced some analysts to give less weight to traditional quantitative factors.

The above analysis is intended for educational purposes only and was performed on the basis of publicly available data. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Any buy, sell, or other recommendations mentioned in the article are direct quotations of consensus recommendations from the analysts covering the stock, and do not represent the opinions of Market Inference or its writers. Past performance, accounting data, and inferences about market position and corporate valuation are not reliable indicators of future price movements. Market Inference does not provide financial advice. Investors should conduct their own review and analysis of any company of interest before making an investment decision.