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Neutral on Geron Corp.

GERN

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We recently reiterated our Neutral recommendation on biopharmaceutical company, Geron Corporation (GERN - Analyst Report), which carries a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating).

Geron focuses on the development of first-in-class therapeutic products for the treatment of cancer. The company currently has two candidates in its pipeline: imetelstat (GRN163L) and GRN1005. Imetelstat is currently in four phase II studies: non-small cell lung cancer, essential thrombocythemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer.

GRN1005, which became a part of Geron’s pipeline following its agreement with Angiochem, Inc., is currently in two phase II studies, which are being conducted in patients with brain metastases arising from non-small cell lung cancer (GRABM-L) and breast cancer (GRABM-B). Top-line data from these studies should be out by the end of the second quarter of 2013.

In mid-November 2011, Geron, an erstwhile leader in stem cell research, announced its intention to exit the stem cell therapy market. Geron’s decision was based on a strategic review. Given the current economic environment of capital scarcity and uncertainty, Geron decided to focus on its oncology program which has several important milestones coming up over the next 20 months.

While the company’s decision to focus on oncology should deliver in the long-term, we expect the stock to remain range-bound in the near term given the lack of catalysts. Results on the oncology candidates should start coming out in late 2012 – we prefer to remain on the sidelines until we see data on these candidates.

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