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Geron (GERN) Q4 Loss Narrows; Focus Remains on Imetelstat

Geron CorporationGERN reported a loss of 5 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2016, flat year over year but narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 6 cents.

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Shares rose 2.4% in after-hours trading on Wednesday. However, so far this year, Geron's shares underperformed the Zacks classified Medical - Biomedical and Genetics industry. Shares of Geron rose 2.5% during the period, while the industry witnessed a gain of 8.8%.

Quarterly revenues came in at $0.09 million, compared with $0.2 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenues slightly missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.18 million.

Research and development (R&D) expenses increased 2.5% to $4.1 million. General and administrative expenses declined 2% to $4.8 million.

Full-Year 2016 Results

Full year 2016 loss per share was 19 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. In the year-ago quarter, the company had reported break-evenresults.

Full year 2016 revenues came in at $6.2 million, also in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate but down 83% from the year-ago period.

Pipeline Update

Geron is developing anti-cancer therapies based on telomerase inhibitors. The company currently has one candidate in its pipeline: imetelstat. Imetelstat is being developed for the treatment of hematologic myeloid malignancies like myelofibrosis (MF) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Geron has a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson's JNJ subsidiary Janssen for imetelstat.

In Sep 2016, Janssen announced unfavorable findings from the planned internal reviews of initial data from the two studies of imetelstat - IMbark (phase II) for the treatment of MF, and IMerge (phase II/III) for the treatment of MDS.

Concurrent with the earnings release, Geron informed that treatment of patients remaining on study in IMbark and IMerge have been ongoing in order to obtain additional and more mature data. However, new patient enrollment in both trials has been suspended until completion of the second internal data reviews by Janssen to inform on further development plans.

Janssen has already initiated the process for second internal data reviews. Geron clarified that Janssen is working on further development plans for the drug, including prospects around dosing in IMbark and opening the phase III part of IMerge for patient enrolment. Janssen's final decision is expected in the second quarter of this year, which could be to either resume, modify or terminate IMbark, IMerge, the imetelstat program for the collaboration agreement.

Meanwhile, Geron is working on expanding its pipeline and is simultaneously working to add oncology candidates, programs or companies to its portfolio.

2017 Guidance

The company expects an operating expense burn between $30 million to $35 million in 2017 including approximately $14 million to $16 million being its proportionate share of cost for supporting the IMbark and IMerge trials.

Geron Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

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

Stocks to Consider

Geron currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the pharmaceutical sector are Celgene Corporation CELG and Summit Therapeutics plc SMMT , both with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Shares of Celgene rose 20.4% in the past one year while earnings estimates for 2017 rose 1.2% in the past 60 days.

Shares of Summit Therapeutics rose 100.5% in the past one year while loss estimates for the current year ending Jan 2018 have narrowed by around 2% in the past 30 days.

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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.


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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