Heat Biologics posts larger Q1 loss

Drug-development company Heat Biologics, which recently initiated cost-cutting measures to conserve its cash, posted a larger first-quarter loss as a result of higher clinical trial expenses.

The Durham company reported Wednesday that it posted a net loss of $4.6 million, or 50 cents per share, in the first quarter compared with a net loss of $3.9 million a year ago. However, its latest quarterly loss was 8 cents per share less than anticipated by analysts polled by Bloomberg News.

Last month Heat Biologics cut six positions – or 22 percent of its staff – and scaled back the number of patients in a phase 1 clinical trial in a move to stretch its cash through the end of the year in the wake of a disappointing stock offering. The company had hoped to sell $12.5 million in newly issued stock to investors but ended up selling just $6.8 million in stock and warrants in late March.

Those cost-cutting measuers weren’t implemented until April and therefore aren’t reflected in the first-quarter results, said company spokesperson Jennifer Almond.

Heat Biologics has no products on the market. As of March 31 it had $11.8 million in cash, which included $6.1 million in net proceeds from its recent stock sale, compared to $11.6 million as of Dec. 31.

Research and development expenses were essentially flat in the first quarter – $500,000 versus $504,000 a year ago. But clinical and regulatory expenses rose $1 million to $3.2 million, reflecting higher clinical trial expenses.

General and administrative expenses totaled $1 million, down $300,000 from a year ago.

CEO Jeff Wolf said in a statement that the company’s primary focus is advancing the development of HS-410, an experimental treatment for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. The company expects to be able to report data from a phase 2 clinical trial involving that drug in the fourth quarter.

Heat Biologics shares were trading at 59 cents, down 2 cents, Wednesday morning. The company’s shares have fallen 76 percent this year.

Earlier this month, the company was notified that its stock was no longer in compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements because it traded below $1 for 30 consecutive business days. The company, which has 180 days to bring its stock into compliance, has said it is looking at measures such as a reverse stock split to avoid being delisted.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii