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Narrower-than-Expected Loss at Achillion, Shares Up

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Share price of Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACHN - Free Report) shot up on Nov 12, after the company announced its third quarter results. Although the stock has witnessed a slight volatility since then, overall the share price has risen 9.2%.

Achillion reported third quarter 2013 loss of 14 cents per share, narrower than the year-ago as well as the Zacks Consensus Estimate loss of 20 cents and 19 cents per share, respectively. The narrower loss was due to lower operating expenses.

Achillion did not record any revenues in both the third quarter 2013 and in the comparable year-ago period.

In the third quarter of 2013, general and administrative expenses increased 3.3% to $2.7 million due to higher non-cash stock based compensation and business development consulting fees. Research and development expenses fell 10.3% year over year to $11.3 million, reflecting lower investment in sovaprevir and ACH-2684.

Achillion primarily focuses on developing therapies for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and other infections. Pipeline candidates for the treatment of HCV at Achillion include sovaprevir (clinical hold from phase II), ACH-3102 (phase II), ACH-2684 (phase Ib completed, a phase II, 12-week trial with ACH-3102 and ACH-2684 with and without ribavirin planned) and ACH-3422 (pre clinical studies, filing for initiation of a phase I trial planed for the second quarter of 2014).

In Sep 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to retain the clinical hold on sovaprevir. The FDA had placed a clinical hold on sovaprevir after observing elevations in liver enzymes in a phase I study.

We note that Vertex Pharmaceuticals' (VRTX - Free Report) Incivek and Merck’s (MRK - Free Report) Victrelis are approved for the treatment of HCV among others. Moreover, many large cap companies are developing drugs for the treatment of HCV

Achillion carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Actelion Ltd. looks attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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