Geron Corporation (GERN - Analyst Report) posted a net loss of 6 cents per share in the second quarter of 2013, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 7 cents and the year-ago loss of 14 cents. Second quarter revenues of $112,000 were below the year-ago revenues of $130,000 and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $400,000. A significant decline in expenses led to the narrower loss.
Quarter in Detail
Revenues consisted entirely of royalties and license fees. Total operating expenses declined 55.7% to $8.2 million. Research and development expenses declined 62.4% to $4.8 million due to reduced personnel-related costs and lower costs related to the manufacturing of imetelstat and GRN1005 as well as lower costs resulting from the winding-down of the imetelstat (metastatic breast cancer and advanced non-small cell lung cancer) and GRN1005 (brain metastases) studies. Meanwhile, general and administrative expenses declined 41.2% to $3.4 million, mainly due to lower personnel-related costs and lower legal costs.
Update on Imetelstat
Geron also provided an update on its pipeline candidate, imetelstat. Geron said that patients continue to be treated and followed in a proof-of-concept phase II study of imetelstat in patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET).
Meanwhile, an investigator-sponsored open-label study on imetelstat for myelofibrosis (MF) continues. Pre-specified criteria were met in two cohorts of the study thereby allowing further patient enrolment. The investigator is also considering the addition of more cohorts to evaluate the effect of different doses.
Moreover, the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board recently approved a protocol amendment for the addition of a new cohort of 11 patients with MF that has transformed into acute myelogenous leukemia (blast-phase MF).
Positive data from the investigator-initiated study would allow Geron to design and initiate a company-sponsored multi-center study in MF in 2014.
Other investigator-sponsored trials could be on hematologic myeloid indications like acute myelogenous leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.
Geron currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Shares were up 16.4% on the second quarter results and the imetelstat update. We expect investor focus to remain on further updates on imetelstat.
At present, companies like Actelion (ALIOF), Biogen Idec (BIIB - Analyst Report) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Analyst Report) look attractive with all three being Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.