Geron rises on 2Q results and imetelstat update

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Geron Corp. rose Friday as Wall Street reacted positively to news about its experimental drug imetelstat.

THE SPARK: On Thursday, Geron reported new details from studies on imetelstat as a treatment for myelofibrosis, a blood disorder. The company said it expanded enrollment in a small clinical trial of the drug, and said the Mayo Clinic board recently approved a change in the study that will add new patients with myelofibrosis that has transformed into a type of leukemia

Myelofibrosis is a disease that causes red blood cells to build up inside bone marrow and slows the production of healthy blood cells.

THE BIG PICTURE: The Menlo Park, Calif., company is studying imetelstat as a treatment for blood disorders. It reported its second-quarter results on Thursday, saying it took a loss of $8.9 million, or 7 cents per share. A year ago it lost $18.3 million, or 14 cents per share. The company got $112,000 in revenue from license fees and royalties, down from $130,000 a year ago.

In September, Geron said imetelstat did not succeed in studies that tested it as a treatment for breast cancer and lung cancer. The company later said it would focus on imetelstat as a treatment for blood disorders like essential thrombocytopenia. Essential thrombocytopenia is a blood disorder caused by bone marrow disease. Patients have elevated levels of blood platelets, increasing the risk of blood clots and other problems.

THE ANALYSIS: Piper Jaffray analyst Charles Duncan upgraded Geron shares to "Overweight" from "Neutral" and raised his price target to $4 per share from $1.50. He said the company's updates give him more confidence imetelstat will work as a blood disorder treatment.

SHARE ACTION: Geron stock picked up 21 cents, or 16 percent, to $1.49. The shares have traded between 98 cents and $1.78 in 2013.