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Juno (JUNO) Posts Wider Loss in Q1, Focus on Pipeline

Juno Therapeutics Inc. JUNO reported a loss of 79 cents per share (including stock-based compensation expense) in the first quarter of 2016, wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 67 cents per share and the year-ago loss of 32 cents per share.

The company recorded revenue of $9.8 million in the reported quarter – this includes $3.8 million recognized in connection with the collaboration agreement with Celgene Corporation CELG. The company, which has no approved product in its portfolio, did not generate any revenue in the year-ago quarter.

The company’s adjusted research and development expenses in the reported quarter shot up 371.2% from the year-ago period to $80.1 million. Meanwhile, general and administrative expenses were $16 million, up 116.2% from the year-ago period.

Juno continues to expect cash burn of $220 million - $250 million in 2016 excluding the impact of business development activities.

Juno is looking to revolutionize cancer treatment by bringing immunotherapies to market. Cancer immunotherapy is a highly lucrative area as these therapies have the potential to change the treatment paradigm for cancer -- they basically use the natural capability of the patient's own immune system to fight the cancer. Pipeline candidates include JCAR015, JCAR017 and JCAR014.

Juno is conducting a registrational phase II study (ROCKET) on JCAR015 in adult patients with relapsed/refractory (r/r) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that could support accelerated approval in the U.S. in 2017.

Juno continues to advance its pipeline beyond CD19, and has 10 ongoing trials for eight candidates against six different targets. Meanwhile, a combination study evaluating JCAR014 with MedImmune’s PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, durvalumab, is ongoing.   

Investor focus will remain on data presentation at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Juno is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Some better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Cambrex Corporation CBM and Heska Corporation HSKA. Both are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.

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