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Loss at Rigel Narrower Than Expected

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Rigel Pharmaceuticals’ (RIGL - Free Report) fourth quarter 2012 loss of 30 cents per share was narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 32 cents and the year-ago loss of 36 cents. The narrower-than-expected loss was primarily due to the lower share count in the final quarter of 2012.

Rigel Pharma did not generate any revenues this quarter as well as in the prior year quarter. Research and development expenses came in at $19.8 million in the final quarter of 2012, flat year over year. General and administrative (G&A) expenses decreased 3.3% to $5.8 million in the final quarter of 2012.

Rigel Pharma suffered a loss of $1.32 per share in 2012, narrower than the 2011 loss of $1.36. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2012 hinted at a loss of $1.35 per share. Revenues decreased 52.6% to $2.3 million in 2012, short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3 million.

All revenues in 2012 came from contracts. Contract revenue in 2012 primarily consisted of a $1 million upfront payment from AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) related to pipeline candidate R256 (moderate to severe chronic asthma). Contract revenue also included a payment of $0.8 million from Daiichi Sankyo pertaining to an oncology candidate.

We are encouraged by Rigel Pharma’s efforts to develop its pipeline.  In Dec 2012, Rigel Pharma and partner AstraZeneca announced top-line data from the phase IIb OSKIRA-4 study evaluating the use of oral fostamatinib for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The OSKIRA (Oral Syk Inhibition in Rheumatoid Arthritis)-4 study evaluated fostamatinib as a monotherapy in patients who had never been prescribed a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD), or are intolerant or show insufficient response to DMARDs.

The pivotal phase III OSKIRA program is ongoing, results from which are expected in the second quarter of 2013. AstraZeneca plans to submit a marketing application in the US by year end.

Rigel Pharma currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Lannett Inc. (LCI - Free Report) and QLT Inc. are well placed in the pharmaceutical space with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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