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Achillion (ACHN) Posts Wider-Than-Expected Q1 Loss, Names CEO

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Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ACHN reported a loss of 15 cents per share for the first quarter of 2018, same as the year-ago loss but wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 14 cents.

The company generated no revenues in the reported quarter.

Shares of Achillion were down 2.4% on May 2. However, the company's stock have outperformed the industry year to date. The company’s shares have gained 28.1% against the industry’s decrease of 10.9%.

Research and development (R&D) expenses decreased nearly 4.8% from the year-ago period to $14.6 million. The decrease was due to decreased stock-based compensation, lower personnel costs as the February restructuring resulted in reduced number of employees and lower manufacturing and formulation expenses for next generation factor D inhibitor candidate, ACH-5228. This was partially offset by increased costs related to clinical studies of ACH-4471 and ACH-5228 and preclinical costs of ACH-5548.

General and administrative (G&A) expenses decreased 5.9% year over year to $5.3 million due to lower legal and consulting fees.

Restructuring Details

In February 2018, the company announced an operational restructuring plan to focus on its existing factor D inhibitor candidates and reduce expenses. Achillion reduced its workforce by 20% under its restructuring plan. The restructuring is expected to save $10 million in 2018.

Pipeline Update

Achillion is planning to complete a phase II study on its most advanced candidate, ACH-4471, in C3 glomerulopathy (C3G) or immune complex-mediated membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (IC-MPGN) in 2018, with interim data planned for the third quarter of 2018. Two more studies are planned for 2018, which will evaluate ACH-4471 in C3G.

Meanwhile, interim data from the ongoing phase II study evaluating ACH-4471 monotherapy in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (“PNH”) is planned for the fourth quarter of 2018. An add-on study is planned for the evaluation of ACH-4471 in combination with Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ ALXN PNH drug, Soliris (eculizumab). Interim data is expected in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The company also targets to complete phase I studies on its two next generation factor D inhibitors – ACH-5228 and ACH-5548 – in the fourth quarter of 2018.

CEO Transition

Concurrent with the earnings release, Achillion announced that Joseph Truitt, current president and chief operating officer, will take the responsibilities of chief executive officer. Milind Deshpande is stepping down from this role. Joseph will also be appointed to the board of directors.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise


Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Achillion Pharma currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A couple of better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector are Ligand Pharmaceuticals LGND, and Protagonist Therapeutics PTGX. Both the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Ligand’s earnings per share estimates moved up from $4.24 to $4.43 for 2018 and remained stable at $5.32 for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 24.88%. The company’s shares have rallied 14.6% year to date.

Protagonist Therapeutics’ loss estimates narrowed from $1.68 to 66 cents for 2018 and from $2.43 to $1.26 for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 24.95%.

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