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Geron (GERN) Q1 Loss Narrows Y/Y, Revenues Fall, Shares Down

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Geron Corporation (GERN - Free Report) reported a loss of 4 cents per share for the first quarter of 2018, narrower than the year-ago loss of 5 cents.

Quarterly revenues fell 40.8% from the year-ago quarter to $0.32 million. Revenues comprised royalty and license fee revenues received under various non-imetelstat license agreements. The company stated that active non-imetelstat license agreements reduced in numbers and products sales from the licensees decreased.

Shares were down 5.5% in pre-market trading on May 11. However, so far this year, Geron’s shares have significantly outperformed the industry, rising 101.7%, against the industry’s decline of 11.3%.

Research and development (R&D) expenses declined 27.7% to $2.4 million. The decline was due to decreased stock-based compensation and lower costs for the proportionate share of clinical development costs for imetelstat under collaboration with Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) .

General and administrative (G&A) expenses rose 14.1% to $5.3 million due to consulting costs and legal costs.

The company ended the quarter with $103.2 million in cash and investments compared with $109.2 million at the end of the fourth quarter.

Pipeline Update

Geron’s sole pipeline candidate, imetelstat, is being evaluated in two mid-stage studies – IMerge and IMbark – in myelodysplastic syndromes (“MDS”) and myelofibrosis (“MF”), respectively. Geron is conducting the studies in collaboration with J&J.

In December 2017, Geron presented preliminary data from part I of phase II/III IMerge study. Data showed that imetelstat achieved RBC transfusion-independence (RBC-TI – reduced or no requirement of RBC transfusion over a certain interval) in 54% of the patient population, who have not received prior treatment with either lenalidomide or a hypomethylating agent, for at least eight weeks. RBC-TI was achieved in 31% of the patients in the above subset for at least 24 weeks.

Based on this data, J&J expanded part I of the study to include 20 more patients in a refined MDS indication to confirm the clinical benefit and safety observed earlier. In October 2017, the FDA granted fast track designation to imetelstat based on data from part 1 of IMerge.

Meanwhile, the clinical benefit and a potential overall survival benefit observed during the third internal review in March 2018 supported continuation of the phase II IMbark study without modifications.

However, J&J is planning to amend the protocol of the study to allow long-term treatment of patients. The amendment will be based on a primary analysis of data from the study, which is expected in the second quarter of 2018. J&J will also notify Geron about continuation of the study based on this analysis, which is expected in the third quarter of 2018.

Geron Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise


Geron Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Geron Corporation Quote

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Geron currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

A couple of other stocks to consider in the biotech sector are Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND - Free Report) , and Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ENTA - Free Report) . While Ligand sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Enata carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Ligand’s earnings per share estimates moved up from $4.20 to $4.43 for 2018 and remained stable at $5.32 for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 31.79%. The company’s shares have rallied 25.4% year to date.

Enanta’s earnings per share estimates significantly increased from 86 cents to $2.48 for 2018 over the last 30 days. The company came up with an average beat of 372%. The stock has surged 68.2% so far this year.

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