bluebird bio Inc.: Waiting for ASH

bluebird bio reported earnings on Wednesday. As the biotech often does, the earnings came with no notice and didn't have a conference call because management understands that those things are much more important to companies that actually have products on the market.

bluebird bioresults: The only number you really need to know

What happened withbluebird bio this quarter?

  • For the record, bluebird bio lost $47 million in the fourth quarter, compared to less than $20 million in the year-ago quarter. Not that surprising considering it's running more trials now.
  • More importantly, the biotech ended the year with considerably more cash than it had at the end of 2014 thanks to a secondary offering in June.
  • On the pipeline front, bluebird bio presented less-than-stellar data at American Society of Hematology meeting on its gene therapy LentiGlobin in beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease.
  • While all eyes are bluebird bio's gene therapy program, the CAR-T program, testing bb2121 in patients with multiple myeloma has begun. The company's partner on the project, Celgene , has exercised its option to license the drug, which triggered a $10 million payment from Celgene. The endorsement in bb2121 is significant because Celgene has already expressed its admiration for bluebird bio's CAR-T competitor, Juno Therapeutics , in the form of an equity investment.

What management had to say

ASH put a damper on bluebird bio's chances for quickly developing a treatment for sickle cell patients, which Nick Leschly -- who has the silly title of chief bluebird -- didn't shy away from while also highlighting the potential to get a drug on the market for beta-thalassemia patients, "In 2015, bluebird bio defined an accelerated regulatory path for LentiGlobin in beta-thalassemia and established a powerful reason to believe in LentiGlobin in sickle cell disease, though there is still more to learn as we treat additional patients."

"We are particularly looking forward to sharing data from the Starbeam study for the first time," Leschly said of the study of Lenti-D in cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy that should occur in April.

Looking forward

Investors are going to have to wait until ASH next year to get an update on the patient taking LentiGlobin. November is nine months away, but that feels like 37 years in short-term investor time. We may also get some information this year on improvements to its gene therapy platform that could increase the efficacy.

Don't be surprised to see substantial volatility in the stock between now and then as momentum temporarily takes over for fundamentals due to the lack of a news flow.

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Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Celgene. The Motley Fool recommends Bluebird Bio and Juno Therapeutics. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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