Why Sangamo Biosciences, Inc. Fell 29% Today

By Markets Fool.com

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What: Sangamo Biosciences (NASDAQ: SGMO) fell 29% today after releasing second-quarter earnings after the bell on Wednesday.

So what: It wasn't the earnings -- or lack thereof -- that has investors hitting the sell button. For the record, the biotech lost $26.6 million, or $0.38 per share. While certainly larger than the $12.1 million, or $0.17 per share, that Sangamo Biosciences lost in the year-ago quarter, investors are rightfully more focused on the pipeline of the development-stage biotech than its GAAP losses.

Unfortunately, the second-quarter update included substantial delays for Sangamo Biosciences' pipeline. The company announced that the start of its phase 1/2 trials in Mucopolysaccharidosis Type I (MPS I) and MPS II will be delayed until 2017, while the company completes some preclinical studies and has further discussions with the FDA.

Sangamo Biosciences also pushed back the start of clinical trials into 2017 for beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease programs licensed by Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB). And there was a slight delay in Sangamo's hemophilia B program, although a phase 1/2 trial will still start this year.

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On the plus side, the company has prioritized its hemophilia A program, and now thinks it can file an investigational new drug application for the treatment this year.

Now what: Time is money for development-stage biotechs. Delays in starting programs are a double whammy because they result in additional cash burned, which may need to be made up for with dilutive secondary offerings. They also delay the time to profitability -- the ultimate goal of every biotech and its investors.

Sangamo Biosciences has a larger potential reward at this knocked-down price, but it's arguably more risky, as well. Buyer beware.

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Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Biogen. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.