AEterna Zentaris Inc. (USA) (NASDAQ:AEZS) reported financial and operating results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2016.
Commenting on recent key developments, David A. Dodd, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, stated, “On September 30, 2016, we had unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of approximately $21.1 million. After the end of Q3, we concluded a financing transaction that secured our financial condition on the eve of our completion of two pivotal Phase 3 trials. We raised $7.56 million of gross proceeds from the sale of Common Shares, Pre-funded Warrants and Warrants in a registered direct offering on November 1, 2016. Also between September 14, 2016 and October 14, 2016, we raised approximately $2.3 million of gross proceeds from the sale of 580,912 Common Shares pursuant to our ATM program. Since October 14, 2016, our ATM program has not been utilized. Therefore, we believe we have the funds necessary to complete our two pivotal clinical trials, to report top-line results on both and to file a New Drug Application for Macrilen™ in the first half of 2017, if the results of the trial warrant doing so. While we will need to raise additional funds before we are able to bring a product to market, we expect that reporting favorable top-line results from one or both of our clinical trials will permit us to do so on favorable terms.”
Regarding developments with respect to Zoptrex™ (zoptarelin doxorubicin), the Company’s lead oncology compound, Mr. Dodd stated, “After quarter-end, we concluded the fourth out-license of Zoptrex™, our investigational compound that links a synthetic peptide carrier to doxorubicin as a New Chemical Entity (NCE). Specialised Therapeutics Asia Pty Ltd, a leading specialty pharmaceutical company based in Australia, licensed the product for commercialization in Australia and New Zealand. We received an up-front payment for the rights to Zoptrex™ and we will receive additional milestone payments and royalties if commercialization of the potential product proceeds. Furthermore, we obtained further validation of the market’s interest in Zoptrex™. We expect to release top-line results for our pivotal Phase 3 trial of Zoptrex™ in Q1 of 2017 and if the results of the trial warrant doing so, to file a new drug application for Zoptrex™ in 2017.”
Mr. Dodd continued his commentary with an update on the development of Macrilen™ (macimorelin), “We are pleased to announce that we recently completed recruitment in our confirmatory Phase 3 study of Macrilen™ for the evaluation of adult growth hormone deficiency. As a result, we are very confident that the study of Macrilen™ will be concluded and that we will report top-line results in early 2017. If our expectations for completion of the confirmatory Phase 3 study are realized and if the top-line results indicate that the product attained the primary endpoint of the Phase 3 study, we expect to file an NDA for Macrilen™ in the first half of 2017. Since the regulatory review period for the Macrilen™ confirmatory study is six months, we could begin commercializing the product late in 2017.”
Third Quarter 2016 Financial Highlights
R&D costs were $4.5 million and $11.9 million for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, respectively, compared to $4.1 million and $13.0 million for the same periods in 2015. The increase in R&D costs for the three months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the same periods in 2015, is mainly attributable to higher comparative third-party costs. During 2015, we initiated the new confirmatory Phase 3 clinical trial of Macrilen™. The first patient recruitment was achieved in the fourth quarter of 2015 and we completed the patient recruitment in the fourth quarter of 2016. The decrease in R&D costs for the nine months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the same periods in 2015, is mainly attributable to lower comparative third-party costs. Third-party costs attributable to Zoptrex™ decreased considerably during the nine months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015, mainly due to the fact that dosing of patients in the ZoptEC trial was completed in February 2016. This is consistent with our expectations as we are approaching the end of the clinical trials. The overall decrease for the nine-month period is also explained by lower employee compensation and benefits costs as well as lower other costs. A substantial portion of this decrease is due to the realization of cost savings in connection with our ongoing efforts to streamline our R&D activities and to increase our commercial operations and flexibility by reducing our R&D staff, which was started in 2014.
General and administrative (“G&A”) expenses were $1.6 million and $5.4 million for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, respectively, as compared to $1.9 million and $7.4 million for the same periods in 2015. The decrease in our G&A costs for the three months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015, is mainly due to the realization of cost savings in connection with our corporate restructuring, which was announced in the fourth quarter of 2015. The comparative decrease for the nine-month period is also partially explained by the realization of costs saving in connection with our corporate restructuring although mainly attributable to the recording, in the prior year period, of certain transaction costs allocated to warrants in connection with the completion of an offering in March 2015.
Selling expenses were $1.8 million and $5.2 million for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, respectively, as compared to $1.7 million and $5.1 million for the same periods in 2015. The selling expenses for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, and 2015 represent mainly the costs of our contracted sales force related to the co-promotion activities as well as our internal sales management team.
Net loss for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, was $6.1 million and $16.7 million, or $0.61 and $1.68 per basic and diluted share, as compared to a net loss of $15.3 million and $40.1 million, or $6.66 and $29.12 per basic and diluted share, for the same periods in 2015. The decrease in net loss for the three months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015, is due largely to higher comparative net finance income. The decrease in net loss for the nine months ended September 30, 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015, is due largely to lower operating expenses and higher comparative net finance income. The movements in net finance income (costs) primarily relate to the change in fair value of warrant liability.
Cash and cash equivalents were approximately $21.1 million as at September 30, 2016, compared to approximately $26.2 million as at June 30, 2016. (Original Source)
Shares of Aeterna Zentaris closed today at $3.25, down $0.25 or 7.14%. AEZS has a 1-year high of $15.70 and a 1-year low of $2.60. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $3.60 and its 200-day moving average is $3.54.
On the ratings front, AEZS stock has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on August 22, Canaccord analyst Neil Maruoka reiterated a Buy rating on AEZS, with a price target of $9.00, which implies an upside of 177% from current levels. Separately, on August 11, H.C. Wainwright’s Swayampakula Ramakanth reiterated a Buy rating on the stock.
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Neil Maruoka and Swayampakula Ramakanth have a yearly average loss of 42.9% and 21.6%, respectively. Maruoka has a success rate of 13% and is ranked #4049 out of 4181 analysts, while Ramakanth has a success rate of 24% and is ranked #4033.
Ãterna Zentaris, Inc. operates as a specialty biopharmaceutical company that is engaged in developing and commercializing novel treatments in oncology, endocrinology and women’s health. The company’s pipeline encompasses compounds at all stages of development, from drug discovery through to marketed products. It focuses on the development of Perifosine, Cetrotide, Ozarelix, AEZS-108 and AEZS-130.