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ABLYNX keeping opex under control

ABLYNX keeping opex under control

17.5.2012 9:57

Ablynx reported 1Q12 financial results and reconfirmed the outlook for the remainder of 2012. The first quarter was cash flow positive thanks to partner income and tight control on operational spending. No new product development items or substantial financial deviations were reported that would trigger changes in our forecasts.

Our View:
Ablynx’ 1Q12 was cash flow positive (+€ 1.3m) thanks to the € 5m Boehringer Ingelheim milestone payment and € 8m from the split upfront of the third Merck Serono deal, closed in 4Q11. On the other hand, cash outflows were limited due to decreases in operating spending such that the net cash position at the end of March arrived at € 85.1m (€ 83.8m at YE11).

1Q12 revenues came in at € 10.1m, up 159% yoy, which included the € 5m BI payment, the (non-cash) recognition of deferred upfronts (~€ 3.5m) and BI R&D FTE payments (~€ 1.3m), on top of € 0.3m grant money. OPEX decreased by 8% to € 16.7 due to declines in R&D spending (€ 14.4m, -9%) as certain projects were stopped and reallocation of resources occurred within the product pipeline. In combination with a small increase in G&A (€ 2.3m), the EBIT arrived at -€ 6.7m. Including a financial income of € 0.4m, the net loss for the period arrived at -€ 6.2m (versus -€ 13.8m in 1Q11).

The development activities are on track. ALX-681/81 continues to recruit patients in the phase II TTP trial, ALX-0061 will report phase II results in RA by YE12 and the phase I study with anti-RSV ALX-0171 will be published as well later this year. Results from the open label extension study with anti-TNF ATN-103 will be published in the coming months and should be supportive to the outlicensing of this project. Similarly, business development activities around ALX-0141 (bone disease which finished phase I) are still ongoing.

In its comments, Ablynx’ CEO re-emphasised the importance of the Novartis Nanobody TAS266 (oncology) as it incorporates an important feature of the Nanobody technology to cross-link different parts of a certain receptor target, a feature which is not achievable with conventional antibody technology. Novartis is expected to enter the clinic with this unique Nanobody in 2012, and the same expectation exists for the BI Nanobody.

The company reiterated its guidance of closing partnerships for new target-based programmes and on existing clinical/preclinical projects. The cash burn guidance of € 20-25m for FY12 remains unchanged.

Conclusion:
Ablynx is currently in an ‘in-between’ period, whereby it is progressing with strong focus a number of key projects that should demonstrate the unique advantages of the Nanobody platform. Success in early stage clinical trials in 2H12 could reverse the current lack of momentum and may redraw attention to the stock of expert investors. At current trading levels, ~80% of the stock is cash, such that valuation can not be a hurdle to enter the stock.


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