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Prothena (PRTA) Reports Narrower-Than-Expected Loss in Q3

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Shares of Prothena Corporation (PRTA - Free Report) gained 1.6%, following the company's third-quarter results. Prothena reported loss of 70 cents per share for third-quarter 2018, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $1.05 and the year-ago loss of $1.37.

Quarterly revenues came in at $0.25 million, missing the Zacks Consensus by 2.67%. However, revenues reported were up from $0.22 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenues mainly came from the company’s collaboration with Roche Holdings (RHHBY - Free Report) .

The company’s shares have lost 65.3% in the year so far, worse than the industry’s decline of 15.9%.

Quarter in Detail

R&D expenses were $18.5 million, down 55.2% year over year, primarily due to lower product manufacturing expenses and lesser extent lower clinical trial costs.

General and administrative (G&A) expenses came in at $9.2 million, down from $12.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

As of Sep 30, 2018, Prothena had $455.6 million in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash.

Pipeline Updates

Prothena is evaluating prasinezumab (PRX002/RG7935) in collaboration with Roche for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. A phase II study, PASADENA, which is being conducted by Roche among patients suffering from Parkinson`s disease, is continuing enrollment. Data from the study is expected in 2020.

Also, Prothena initiated a phase I study on PRX004 in patients with ATTR amyloidosis in the second quarter of 2018. The study continues to enroll patients. The company expects pharmacodynamic data from the lower doses of this study in 2019.

Prothena has a global neuroscience research & development collaboration with Celgene Corporation (CELG - Free Report) to develop new therapies for a broad range of neurodegenerative diseases. The collaboration is focused on three targets implicated in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases, inducing tau, TDP-43 and a third that is undisclosed. Per the terms, Prothena received a $100-million upfront payment and a $50-million equity investment from Celgene. The company is eligible to receive future potential exercise payments and milestone payments for each licensed program. Prothena is also eligible to receive additional royalties on net sales of any resulting marketed products. The preclinical tau program is expected to initiate cell line development of a lead candidate in 2019. In addition, the preclinical Aβ (Amyloid beta) program is also likely to initiate cell line development of a lead candidate in 2019.

Prothena entered into a multi-target license and option agreement with Bioasis Technologies Inc. Per the terms, Prothena will make an upfront payment of $1 million to Bioasis. In exchange, Prothena will explore the application of Bioasis’s xB3 platform technology to increase the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for neuroscience disorders. Moreover, the company has the option to exercise exclusive worldwide rights to additional therapeutic products incorporating Bioasis’s BBB technology for neuroscience targets.

Our Take

The narrower-than-expected loss in the third quarter was encouraging. We expect investors’ focus to remain on pipeline updates as the company has no approved product in its portfolio yet.

Prothena has discontinued the development of its lead pipeline candidate, NEOD001. The decision came as a major blow to the investors as the company has a very limited number of candidates in its pipeline and NEOD001 was a lead one. Hence, investors will now focus on the ongoing phase II study on prasinezumab, though results from the mid-stage study on this candidate is not expected before 2020.

Zacks Rank & Stock to Consider

Prothena carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A better-ranked stock in the healthcare sector is Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Free Report) , which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Gilead’s earnings per share estimates increased from $6.58 to $6.87 for 2018 over the past 60 days. Estimates for 2019 are also up by 27 cents.

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