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Pieris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PIRS) Still Showing Strength After Reporting Q1 Loss

Pieris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PIRS) climbed 16% since it reported a Q1 loss on May 10th.

Highlights from their Q1 results:

  • Cash and cash equivalents totaled $55.2 million as of March 31, 2017, compared to $29.4 million as of December 31, 2016.
  • Research and development expenses were $5.4 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, compared to $3.7 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2016.
  • General and administrative expenses for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 were $4.0 million, compared to $2.0 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2016.
  • Net loss was $8.0 million or ($0.19) per share for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, compared to a net loss $4.2 million or ($0.10) per share for the quarter ended March 31, 2016.

While EPS decreased by $0.09, PIRS hit three major milestones which appear to be resonating with investors.

  1. Secured global and transformative alliances in their two core therapeutic areas of immuno-oncology and respiratory diseases with Servier and AstraZeneca

  2. Advanced clinical and preclinical programs, with Phase 1 trial initiation of their lead immuno-oncology asset, PRS-343, anticipated in the first half of this year and Phase 1 trial initiation of theirlead respiratory asset, PRS-060, anticipated in the second half of this year

  3. Secured a regional partnership for their hepcidin antagonist, PRS-080, in Japan and other Asian territories as they seek to carefully divest the asset while it focuses on its key therapeutic areas

PIRS’s chart shows strong upward momentum since the beginning of 2017 when PIRS announced the deal with French pharmaceutical company, Servier.

In this deal, PIRS is to receive EUR30 million ($31.3 million USD) upfront, up to EUR324 million ($338 million) in success-based payments for PRS-332, up to EUR193 million ($201 million) in success-based payments for each of the other programs and up to double-digit royalties.

The stock gapped up at the beginning of May when PIRS announced the deal with AstraZeneca which includes $57.5 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments as well as the potential for commercial payments to not exceed $2.1 billion.

On both announcements, the chart settled, but did not completely fill the gap as investors moved in to take positions.

Closing at $3.82 on May 15, the stock is above both its 50 Day Moving Average and its 200 Day Moving Average indicating PIRS is on a strong upward trend.

Source: StockCharts.com

Company Overview

PIRS is a clinical-stage biotechnology company committing to providing novel solutions for oncology, respiratory disease and other therapeutic areas by applying its proprietary Anticalin® technology to create differentiated drugs.

Their drug pipeline includes:

  1. Immuno-oncology multi-specifics (tumor-targeted costimulatory approach and dual-checkpoint inhibitors),
  2. Inhaled Anticalin proteins to treat respiratory diseases,
  3. A half-life-optimized Anticalin protein to treat anemia.

Proprietary to PIRS, Anticalin proteins are recombinantly engineered versions of lipocalins, human proteins that naturally bind, store and transport a wide spectrum of molecules.

Recent Company Milestones

PIRS is at a stage of development where it has been able to sign big deals with large established players in the pharmaceutical industry:

  1. May 2017 – Formed strategic co-development alliance with AstraZeneca to develop inhaled biologics for respiratory diseases; includes PRS-060 and 4 other programs (see news release)
  2. February 2017 – Granted exclusive option on anemia program PRS-080 to ASKA Pharmaceutical in Japan and other Asian countries (see news release)
  3. January 2017 – Formed strategic co-development immuno-oncology alliance with Servier; includes PRS-332 and 4 other programs (see news release)

Management Team

PIRS is led by a seasoned management team with experience growing development-stage biotechnology companies.

Stephen Yoder, J.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Stephen S. Yoder joined Pieris as Chief Executive Officer in January 2010. Prior to joining PIRS, from July 2003 to December 2010 he led the intellectual property and legal departments at MorphoSys AG, a biotechnology company involved in the development and research of antibodies, as General Counsel.

Louis Matis, M.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer

Dr. Louis Matis joined PIRS as the Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer in August 2015, bringing more than 30 years of experience in basic and clinical biomedical research, regulatory affairs, drug development and executive leadership. Prior to joining PIRS, Dr. Matis served since June 2011 as Executive Director, Strategic Evaluation at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, where he also served from 1993 to 2000, during which time he advanced to the position of CSO and had a leading role in discovering the first-in-class complement inhibitor monoclonal antibody Soliris® (eculizumab).

Lance Thibault
Acting Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Lance Thibault joined PIRS as Acting Chief Financial Officer in February 2017. Mr. Thibault, joins the Company from Danforth Advisors where he has served as a consulting chief financial officer since January 2014, providing operational, financial and strategic services at a number of public and private pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Claude Knopf
Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer

Mr. Claude Knopf joined Pieris as Chief Business Officer in December 2016 bringing to PIRS a demonstrable track record of success in strategy, corporate development, licensing, alliance management, marketing and sales spanning more than two decades. Prior to joining PIRS, Mr. Knopf was Sr VP, Global Head Business Development & Licensing and Mergers & Acquisitions for Baxalta (spin off of formerly Baxter Bioscience) and 2 years at Baxter where he was a Sr. VP and Global Head Business Development and Licensing BioScience.

Shane Olwill, Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Development & Immuno-Oncology

Dr. Shane Olwill has spent over a decade in oncology focused drug discovery with a specific interest in the development of novel biologics. Prior to joining PIRS, Shane was Director of Research at Fusion Antibodies Ltd where he was responsible for the discovery and development of multiple drug candidates. He is a named inventor on 16 patents and has published his research in many international peer review journals.

Mary Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Vice President of Respiratory Medicine

Dr. Mary Fitzgerald brings to PIRS more than thirty years of respiratory drug development experience. Prior to joining PIRS, Dr. Fitzgerald, from February 2010 was the Executive Vice President of Respiratory at Pulmagen Therapeutics and from November 2002 to February 2010, Dr. Fitzgerald held various positions at Etiologics, Ltd., formerly Argenta Discovery, most recently as Executive Vice President of Respiratory, where she was responsible for clinical development of inhaled and oral drug candidates for both COPD and asthma.

Christine Rothe, Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Discovery & Alliance Management

Dr. Christine Rothe has more than 17 years of experience in discovery, characterization and optimization of therapeutic protein drug candidates. She currently serves as VP Discovery and Alliance Management at PIRS. In this position she oversees technology development as well as the discovery process of selecting and profiling of Anticalin® proteins for Pieris proprietary and partnered programs. In addition, she holds responsibility for the Alliance Management team.

Conclusion

Keep watching PIRS as it has landed some large strategic deals since the beginning of the year and investors have taken notice. The chart appears strong and the price is consistently moving in the right direction.

Disclosure: We have no position in PIRS and have not been compensated for this article.

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