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MultiStem Overshadows Q4 Loss at Athersys - Analyst Blog


Athersys, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHX) is working very hard to develop its MultiStem cell therapy. Investor focus is more on the company's efforts to develop the candidate than on earnings reports. During the fourth quarter of 2013, Athersys completed enrolling patients in a phase II study on its MultiStem cell therapy.

Athersys is developing MultiStem for ulcerative colitis in collaboration with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE). The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center phase II study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of MultiStem therapy in patients suffering from moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis. The company expects to report initial results by early May. Further results from the study are expected in the second quarter of 2014.

During the quarter, Athersys accelerated the enrollment process for the phase II study on MultiStem in the ischemic stroke indication. The company also made progress regarding the phase II/III study of MultiStem in the graft-versus-host indication.

The company also made progress on the phase II study on the candidate for treating acute myocardial infarction. With pipeline development being a key area of focus for the company, the above updates regarding the same were provided by it while reporting fourth quarter 2013 results.

The biotechnology company reported an adjusted loss per share of 9 cents per share in the final quarter of 2013 in line with the year-ago loss but narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 12 cents.  

Revenues plummeted to $0.9 million from $2.3 million recorded a year ago. The fall in contract revenues to $0.4 million from $2 million led to the massive decline. The huge decline in contract revenues was due to the timing of milestone and license payments from partners including Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY). Revenues were way short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2 million.

Research and development (R&D) expenses for the fourth quarter of 2013 increased 4.1% to $5.1 million, driven by higher patent related fees, personnel costs and stock based compensation expenses. General administrative expenses at Athersys climbed 23% to $1.6 million in the final quarter of 2013. Higher stock-based compensation expense led to the increase.

The company expects R&D expenses in 2014 to exceed the 2013 figure of $20.5 million primarily due to clinical trial related costs. Athersys expects SG&A expenses to remain flat compared to 2013 levels.

Athersys carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) is a better-ranked stock in the sector with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

ATHERSYS INC (NASDAQ: ATHX): Free Stock Analysis Report
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