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Agenus' (AGEN) Pipeline Progression on Track Amid Competition

Zacks Equity Research

We issued an updated research report on Agenus Inc. AGEN on May 23, 2019.

Agenus has collaboration agreements with a number of companies, which not only provide it with funds in the form of upfront and milestone payments and future royalties but also validate its proprietary product platform.

Last December, Agenus inked a collaboration deal with Gilead Sciences GILD to develop and commercialize up to five immuno-oncology (I-O) therapies. In January 2019, the company announced the closing of its I-O partnership pact with Gilead. Agenus received $7.5 million in cash as a milestone payment from Gilead post the FDA’s acceptance of its investigational new drug (IND) application for AGEN1423.

AGEN1423 is a first-in-class molecule, currently being developed in partnership with Gilead as a potential treatment for cancer. Agenus is also eligible to receive additional milestones from Gilead in the days ahead. The latter received the worldwide exclusive rights to AGEN1423. In fact, Gilead also received the exclusive option to license two additional programs, namely AGEN1223 and AGEN2373. This joint effort will assist Agenus with the much-needed infusion of cash and allow advancement of its pipeline development too. Also, Gilead’s global presence and its commitment to disruptive therapies will enable Agenus to build a broad pipeline in I-O.

The company is on track with a combination study of CTLA-4 targeting antibody, AGEN-1884, and its PD-1 targeting antibody, AGEN-2034, for second-line cervical cancer. A filing is expected in early 2020.

Agenus established a separate business entity to progress its cell therapy program, which is designed to be self-funded. The cell therapy company, AgenTus, will focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of breakthrough “living drugs” to develop cures for cancer patients. Per the company, AgenTus has made a very important move in building a team, enhancing the company’s cell therapy construct capabilities, substantially expanding its pipeline of TCRs and CAR candidates, and advancing the novel and proprietary allogeneic cell format.

Shares of the company have rallied 24.4% compared with the industry’s growth of 2%.

However, Agenus has no approved product in its portfolio. With only a few candidates in mid-stage development, the company is still a few years away from launching a product in the market. Any hiccup in the development process of these candidates may weigh heavily on the stock.

 

Agenus Inc. Price

 

Agenus Inc. Price

Agenus Inc. price | Agenus Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Agenus has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector are Anika Therapeutics Inc. ANIK and Applied Genetics Technologies Corp. AGTC, both carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Anika’s earnings per share estimates have moved up from $1.22 to $1.28 for 2019 and from $1.21 to $1.33 for 2020 in the past 60 days. The company delivered a positive surprise in all the trailing four quarters, the average being 72.00%.         

Applied Genetics’ loss per share estimates have narrowed from $1.25 to 1 cent for 2019 and from $2.39 to $2.15 for 2020 in the past 60 days. The company came up with a positive surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, the average beat being 83.47%.         

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