Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.INO reported a loss of 11 cents per share in the first quarter of 2016, significantly narrower than both the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 23 cents and the year-ago loss of 18 cents.
Total revenue in the quarter surged almost 57% to $8.1 million, reflecting an increase in development payments from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Revenues were above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.1 million.
Inovio's shares were up 6.3% following the release of first-quarter results.
In the first quarter of 2016, research and development expenses shot up almost 93% year over year to $18.2 million due to increased pipeline investment. General and administrative expenses also increased 30.8% to $5.4 million.
Inovio continues to progress with its pipeline. Following the successful end-of-phase-II meeting both with the FDA and the European Medicines Agency, the company plans to commence a pivotal phase III registration study on VGX-3100 for the treatment of HPV-16/18-related high grade cervical dysplasia in 2016.
Apart from VGX-3100, Inovio is working on the development of other candidates as well. The company plans to complete enrollment of patients in a phase I study on INO-5150 for the treatment of prostate cancer with interim immune response data expected before the end of this year.
Interim immune response data from a phase I study on INO-1400 for indications like breast, lung and pancreatic cancers is expected by year end. The company has tripled the tumor type in this study to include head and neck squamous cell, ovarian, colorectal, gastric and hepatocellular and esophageal cancer, and increased the number of trial sites from one to six across the U.S.
Meanwhile, additional immune response data from studies on INO-3112 for HPV-related cervical and head and neck cancers is anticipated in 2016. Inovio, along with AstraZeneca plc's AZN global biologics research & development arm MedImmune, expects to begin combination studies on INO-3112 in 2016.
Inovio is also working on developing Ebola and Zika virus vaccines.
In late Apr 2016, the company completed the acquisition of all of Bioject Medical Technologies Inc.'s assets, including the needle-free jet injection technology, devices, and intellectual property for $5.5 million in cash and stock.
Inovio's first-quarter results were encouraging with the company reporting a narrower-than-expected loss and revenues surpassing estimates. We are also pleased with the company's efforts to initiate a late-stage study on its lead candidate, VGX-3100. The company's efforts in developing Ebola and Zika virus vaccines are also encouraging. Going ahead, the company expects several developments across its oncology and infectious disease candidates in its pipeline in 2016. We expect investor focus to remain on pipeline updates from the company.
Inovio is a Zack Rank #3 (Hold) stock. A couple of better-ranked stocks in the health care sector are ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ANIP and Retrophin, Inc. RTRX , each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).