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IVERIC bio's (ISEE) Q1 Loss Narrows, Gene Therapy in Focus

Zacks Equity Research

IVERIC bio ISEE reported loss of 30 cents per share for first-quarter 2019, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as the year-ago loss of 36 cents.

With no approved products in its portfolio, IVERIC bio derives revenues from milestone and other payments under collaborations. However, there were no such revenues in the quarter.

On Apr 16, the company announced that it has changed its name from Ophthotech Corporation to IVERIC bio. The change in name of the company was part of the transition strategy to focus primarily on developing gene therapies to treat orphan inherited retinal diseases (“IRD”). The company’s ticker was also changed from OPHT to ISEE.

Shares of IVERIC bio have increased 19.2% so far this year compared with the industry’s rise of 3.2%.

Quarter in Detail

Research and development expenses in the first quarter remained flat year over year at $7.7 million. The increase in expenses related to gene therapy programs was offset by lower costs associated with the Zimura programs.

General and administrative expenses decreased 1.8% from the year-ago period to $5.5 million due to lower infrastructure and operational costs.

Cash Balance

IVERIC bio’s cash balance was $116.6 million as of Mar 31, 2019 compared with $131.2 million on Dec 31, 2018.

The company expects cash and cash equivalents in the range of $80-$85 million in 2019, taking into account the impact of preclinical development, collaborative research programs for gene therapies and continuation of Zimura development.

Pipeline and Other Updates

With the change of the company’s name to IVERIC bio, it is now primarily focused on developing gene therapy programs. The company expects to initiate clinical studies on gene therapy candidates in 2020 and 2021 to evaluate them as a treatment for BEST1 related retinal diseases and Leber congenital amaurosis type 10 (LCA10).

The company’s C5 complement inhibitor candidate, Zimura, is being evaluated in several mid-stage clinical studies for the treatment of dry and wet AMD, Stargardt disease and geographic atrophy. The company remains on track to announce top-line data from the phase IIb study on the candidate in geographic atrophy patients in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

IVERIC bio currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the pharmaceutical sector include Celsion Corp. CLSN, Fibrocell Science Inc FCSC and Editas Medicine, Inc. EDIT. While Celsion and Fibrocell sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Editas carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Celsion’s loss estimates narrowed from 94 cents to 78 cents for both 2019 and 2020 over the past 60 days.

Fibrocell’s loss estimates narrowed from $2.68 to $1.15 for 2019 and from $2.55 to 97 cents for 2020 over the past 60 days.

Editas’ loss estimates narrowed from $2.74 to $2.68 for 2019 and from $3.10 to $3.01 for 2020 over the past 60 days.

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