Celldex Therapeutics, Inc.'s Collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb Key in First-Quarter Update

By Keith Speights Markets Fool.com

Financial contributions from a big partner helped Celldex Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CLDX) the last time it reported quarterly results back in March. Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) provided a boost for Celldex in its fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 results.

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Celldex announced its first-quarter 2017 results after the market closed on Tuesday. Because Celldex is a clinical-stage biotech, investors look at financial results in a much different way for the company than they would others; cash position is more important than top- or bottom-line results. Here are the highlights from Celldex's first quarter.

Image source: Getty Images.

Celldex results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q1 2017

Q1 2016

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$1.53 million $1.30 million

17.7%

Net loss

($34.3 million) ($34.7 million)

N/A

Net loss per share

($0.28) ($0.35)

N/A

Data source: Celldex Therapeutics.

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What happened with Celldex this quarter?

The nice increase in revenue during the first quarter stemmed primarily from Celldex's clinical-trial collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Additional revenue also came from the biotech's research and development agreement with Rockefeller University.

Celldex's net loss was slightly narrower than the loss reported in the prior-year period. That represented both good and bad news. The good news was the improvement on the bottom line. The bad news was that it largely resulted from Celldex's cancellation of its Rintega program last year, after the experimental brain-cancer drug failed in a late-stage clinical study. As a result of that clinical setback, Celldex's R&D costs, and general and administrative costs, were lower in the first quarter of 2017 than in the same quarter of 2016.

The company continued to be in pretty good shape with respect to cash. At the end of the first quarter Celldex reported cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities totaling $167.0 million. That reflected a decrease from $189.8 million at the end of 2016.

Celldex thinks that its cash position, combined with anticipated proceeds from future sales of its stock under an existing agreement, will fund operations through 2018. This outlook assumes, however, that the company will be able to pay any contingent milestones associated with its acquisition of Kolltan Pharmaceuticals in stock rather than cash.

What management had to say

Anthony Marucci, co-founder, president, and CEO of Celldex, pointed to the company's clinical progress in the first quarter:

In the first quarter of 2017, Celldex made considerable progress across our pipeline. We continue to expect enrollment completion in our ongoing study of glembatumumab vedotin in triple negative breast cancer by the end of September, and we recently completed enrollment in the Phase 2 glembatumumab vedotin plus varlilumab combination cohort in checkpoint-refractory metastatic melanoma. Glemba's target, gpNMB, is highly expressed in melanoma and triple negative breast cancer, among others, and is associated with more aggressive disease. We believe taking an antibody-drug conjugate approach to targeting gpNMB generates a potent cytotoxic effect within the tumor and its environment and may ultimately result in improved outcomes for patients.

Looking forward

There are several key things for investors to watch for in the months ahead. Celldex expects to complete enrollment in September for the phase 2b METRIC study evaluating glembatumumab vedotin (glemba) in treating triple-negative breast cancer. This is tremendously important, as Celldex hopes this study will lead to filing for approval for glemba in the indication.

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in June, Celldex will make a couple of presentations of interest to investors. The biotech will present updated data from the single-agent cohort of the phase 2 study of glemba in treating metastatic melanoma. Celldex will also present updated data from the phase 1 study of varlilumab (varli) in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo in treating multiple types of cancer.

Although significant risks remain with its pipeline, Celldex continues to be one of several cancer-drug stocks that are quite attractive to investors. The potential for glemba and varli, particularly in combination regimens with Opdivo and other drugs, could help Celldex emerge as an important player in the oncology market in the years to come.

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Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Celldex Therapeutics. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.