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Coherus Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHRS)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May 9, 2019, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. And welcome to the Coherus Biosciences 2019 first quarter earnings conference call. My name is Demetrius. And I'll be your conference operator for the call today. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to David Arrington, Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs. Please go ahead, sir.

David Arrington -- Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs

Thank you, Demetrius. And good afternoon, everyone. After close of market today, we issued our first quarter financial results press release. This release can be found on the Coherus Biosciences website. Joining me for today's call will be Coherus' president and CEO, Denny Lanfear, Chief Financial Officer Jean Viret, Chief Legal Officer Thomas Fitzpatrick, and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Market Access, Jim Hassard.

Before we begin our formal remarks, I would like to remind you that we would be making forward-looking statements with respect to product development plans, all of which involve certain assumptions, risks, and uncertainties that are beyond our control and could cause actual results to differ from these statements. A description of these risks can be found on our most recent Form 10-K which we filed this afternoon after market close. In addition, Coherus Biosciences does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements made during this call. I will now turn the call over to Denny.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Thank you, David. And thank you all for joining us today on Coherus' Q1 2019 earnings call. Today, we plan to cover three main topics with you. First, we will review the UDENYCA launch performance in Q1 and share some insights into the drivers behind those results, so you have both a quantitative and a qualitative understanding of how [audio cuts out] would be happy to provide some additional color on this subject in just a moment. Secondly, we'll discuss our transition from a pure development platform company to an integrated R, D, plus C growth company with some 96 full-time equivalent team members in the field and 125 commercial fulltime equivalents in total in our company. Our demonstrated capability provides us with the opportunity to leverage our market success to commercialize other oncology products in the medium to long term.

Accordingly, our ambition is to achieve a progressive increase in commercialized products in a corresponding growth and top-line results in the medium to long term. Lastly, we will review how our commercial performance impacts our future financing needs and our plans to achieve break-even. Now let me make a few comments with respect to UDENYCA's Q1 sales performance. And, in doing so, will try to provide as much color as possible so that you have a strong understanding of what this performance means quantitatively as well as how we were able to achieve these results qualitatively. UDENYCA revenues in Q1 were $37.1 million which is well-aligned with our expectations. I'd like to make two key points here for you. First, there was no abnormal stocking or artificial inventory build at wholesalers or customer levels. That is to say, stocking was well within our normal range.

With respect to pricing and contracting, discounts were consistent with our long-term value preservation strategy, as Mr. Hassard will discuss further in just a moment. We believe these results validate our unique approach to deliver value to the biosimilar market and drive adoption. This is the first time a peer play biosimilar company has launched a biosimilar. Prior to this, the market witnessed either biopharma innovator companies launching biosimilars or, conversely, generic drug companies launching biosimilars with mixed results.

We've always been confident that biosimilars provided a unique commercial opportunity. And we shared our branded biosimilar approach with the street prior to our launch. Biosimilars are complex products and require a novel, holistic commercialization approach which includes both innovator type patient wraparound services such as Coherus Complete and strong contracting capabilities. Now for a little more color on the value proposition and the keys to our success, let me hand things over to Jim.

Jim Hassard -- Senior Vice President, Marketing and Market Access

Thank you, Denny. We are very pleased that our quarter one results are validating our approach to the market which gives us renewed confidence as we look forward to the rest of 2019. Now let me walk you through the four core elements of our value proposition. With respect to pricing and contracting, our approach has been and remains to deliver high value to the market while preserving the long-term revenue potential for UDENYCA. We believe that we have been conservative, judicious, and disciplined with our contracting to date, consistent with that approach. There are an abundance of customers that find our value proposition compelling. And we are getting good traction across all three market segments, the community oncology clinics, non-340B hospitals, and 340B hospitals. With respect to supply, we plan to support a broad launch, allowing us to enter the market across all three segments. Our high supply strategy provided our customers with confidence that we could meet any demand levels over time.

The last piece of our value proposition is branded services. Coherus Complete continues to be the focus of this service offering. And so far, we have provided support to hundreds of cancer patients. Now let me hand things back to Denny.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Thanks, Jim. Next, I'd like to discuss how, with UDENYCA, Coherus is successfully transitioning from an R&D company to an R&D&C company, C being commercial and fully integrated. First, on the development side, we continue to advance the pipeline. This includes the filing exercises for our CHS-1420 Humira biosimilar in alignment with our 2023 launch date. With respect to our ophthalmology pipeline, this also includes CHS-2020, our Eylea biosimilar, and CHS-3351, our Lucentis biosimilar. I can report that both are advancing consistent with our plans through various manufacturing and preclinical stages. We'll be happy to take your questions during the Q&A. Now on the commercial side, it's important to keep in mind that oncology is a rapidly changing ecosystem with significant pricing sensitivities and new therapeutic and technologies entering the treatment paradigms.

While we do not want to claim that we have cracked the code with respect to the commercialization of biosimilars, we do believe that our performance to date aptly demonstrates a deep understanding of the oncology buy and sell ecosystem and validates our ability to deliver value in various key dimensions as required to all key stakeholders. We feel the capabilities of our commercial team can be effectively applied to other oncology assets. Accordingly, we have high priority efforts under way to end-license potential products which would lever the commercial infrastructure developed for UDENYCA. The last topic we'd like to discuss with you today is the long-term financial implications of the launch and performance, specifically how it impacts at what point in time we achieve break-even on either a GAAP or a cash basis and the company's medium to long term financial plans and financing needs.

You may recall that since the beginning of the year, we have stated the aspirational goal to reach break-even, leveraging the HCR $75 million financing which was secured in early January, our ambition to achieve financial profitability organically. That is to say, we expect the top line to be driven by UDENYCA sales growth on whatever trajectory we see throughout 2019 and consistent with Mr. Hassard's remarks to preserve long-term product value. Further, to achieve this goal, we are not going to squeeze the expense line. Rather, we will continue to support pipeline investments where essential for the company's future product development success. And of course, we will also continue key investments in the commercial infrastructure.

While we are not going to presage Q2 results for you today, we can say that the sales growth on a month to month basis is advancing consistent with our financial plans and stated aspirations. Now with that, I'm gonna hand things over to the company's chief financial officer, Dr. Jean Viret. JV?

Jean Viret -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Denny. I will now walk you through the main financial results for this quarter. Net product revenue for the first quarter of 2019 was $37.1 million, as Denny indicated earlier. Cost of goods sold for the first quarter of 2019 was $2.2 million, resulting in a gross profit margin of 94% for this quarter. Research and developing expenses for the quarter of 2019 decreased by $6.7 million down to $18.8 million, as compared to $25.5 million for the same period in 2018. The decreases in R&D expenses were mainly due to a capitalization of UDENYCA manufacturing cost in the first quarter of 2019. Selling, general, and administrative expenses for the first quarter of 2019 increased by $16.1 million to $32.7 million as compared to $16.6 million for the same period in 2018. The increase in SG&A expenses in 2019 was mainly attributable to the costs associated with commercializing UDENYCA in the US, as we added a full sales and marketing team to support the commercialization of UDENYCA.

Overall, total operating expenses decreased by $6.8 million from $60.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 to $53.7 million in the first quarter of 2019, primarily as a result of a reduction in UDENYCA manufacturing preapproval activities. Cash and cash equivalence and investment in marketable securities for the first quarter totaled $96.4 million as of March 31, 2019, as compared to $95.2 million as of March 31, 2018, and $72.4 million as of year-end, that is December 31, 2018. Trade receivables net were $46.5 million as of March 31, 2019. We anticipate that we will collect most of this balance during the second quarter of this year. Net loss attributable to Coherus for the first quarter of 2019 was $20 million or $0.29 per share compared to a net loss of $44.3 million or $0.74 per share for the same period in 2018. With that, I'm turning the call over back to David.

David Arrington -- Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs

Yes. Thank you. So, Operator, we are now ready to take questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question at this time, please press the * and then the 1 key on your touchtone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove yourself from the queue, please press the # key. Once again, if you have a question or comment, please press * then 1. One moment for questions.

And our first question comes from Ken Cacciatore with Cowen and Company. You may proceed.

Ken Cacciatore -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Hey, Denny. Congratulations to you and the team on the launch. You had an elegant way of trying to describe the path to profitability. I just wanna just try to confirm a couple of things. It sounds like you're saying sequential growth through the balance of the year. So, you said no stocking. Sounds like the launch is going well. Just wanna make sure that that does make sense in terms of for modeling purposes that we should just see a steady grind higher here, as you continue to penetrate. And then maybe a broader question. Anything about the launch that's surprising you in any one of the segments or geographies or anything that you're learning that's a little bit different? And then maybe lastly, you focused a lot on being disciplined. So, is the brand responding in a way that's surprising you? Again, it was an area of focus. I just wanna know what they're doing in reaction to you and Mylan in the market. Thank you.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Thanks, Ken. And thank you for your questions. A few things there. So, I'm gonna let Jim Hassard tee up a couple of answers, specifically with respect to the progressivity of the sales and so on. I'll just presage that I think it's not exactly going to be linear month to month to month, of course, or quarter to quarter to quarter as we go forward. But let me have Jim answer a few of your questions here with respect to what we see in the market and so on. Jim?

Jim Hassard -- Senior Vice President, Marketing and Market Access

Thanks, Denny. So, Ken, you had asked the biggest surprise. And it's something we had thought about. In general, we anticipated adoption process in hospitals to be longer than what has come to place. We are very pleased that the hospital segments have recognized the value of UDENYCA and have moved UDENYCA rapidly through the P&T process. I think in terms of the disciplined nature, we have mentioned that a lot. One of the things that we anticipated coming into the market was, again, perhaps being first. But now with three players in the market, it's requiring us to be very disciplined. And we're also seeing the marketplace be disciplined as well.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

And with respect to the sales numbers in the $37 million, Ken, we did get some earlier questions with respect to why we preannounced that number and so on. That was simply because we wanted to give the street better guidance to understand how things were going. And as you know, there is ongoing publishing of sales numbers in various quarters. So, we saw it not to have any symmetric information. The other thing is we wanted to disabuse the notion that somehow this was because of out of the ordinary channel loading and so forth early in the launch, which it was not. It was very much just organic and business as usual. Does that cover your question?

Ken Cacciatore -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Yeah, it does. Thank you.

Operator

And our next question comes from Chris Schott with JPMorgan. You may proceed.

Chris Schott -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Great. Thanks very much. And then congrats again on the launch. Just a couple ones here. So, the first one I had was as we think about the competitive landscape evolving over time, and as we think about incremental competition coming into the Neulasta market, do you feel that once you secure share that that's gonna be fairly sticky?

Or do you think that you will see over time that some of these players are gonna opt in and out of different products? I'm trying to see how much of this first or second mover advantage can translate to sustained market share as we think about incremental competition. So, that's the first question. Second was on gross margins. Looked like it was about 94% in the first quarter. Is that a decent proxy to think about for the product going forward? I know it was gonna be an Amgen royalty. But if we take that 94% plus the royalty, is that a decent level to think about for gross profits? And then finally, just any other color in terms of where the net price is shaking out at this point for UDENYCA? Thanks very much.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Hi, Chris. Thanks for your congratulations. And thanks for your question. So, let me handle, first of all, the competition question. Then I'll let Jean Viret talk about the gross profit issue. Then I'll let Mr. Hassard talk about the color as you requested. With respect to the competition, I think that you have to realize when you go forward with a biosimilar in this market, there is an awful lot of work required on the part of the providers to adopt it, particularly in the hospital segment, so 340B and the normal hospital segments, the non-340Bs. And you have to go all through P&T and committees.

And it's a very -- for a hospital, I think it's a very laborious process and a lot of work. So, I do believe that once they decide on a biosimilar, there is a fair amount of stickiness there. We're not sure how much, of course, because we don't have data. But I think there is a fair amount of stickiness in terms of switching to another product because there's a lot of work to get to a biosimilar. With respect to the clinics, I think the clinics are probably able to move products quicker in and out for various things. Overall, I would view them as less sticky than the larger hospital segment. So, perhaps two-thirds of the market is a little stickier than the remaining third. Jean, would you like to comment on Chris's question with respect to gross profit?

Jean Viret -- Chief Financial Officer

So, gross profit this quarter was somewhat unusual because we had a writedown of a prepayment that impacted our cost of sales. We canceled a few lots. And that's indicated on 10-Q. So, if we do not have that, our gross margin will be in the proximity of 98%-99%. With now the royalty that will be owed to Amgen, this will go up by a mid-single-digit percentage. And so, you should expect that gross margin will be well above 90%, if not hovering around 95-ish%. Does that answer your question?

Chris Schott -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Yes. Very impressive margins there.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

It's great. And I'll just let Mr. Hassard make a remark here. I think your last question was a little about pricing and how that's shaking out and any color on that. Jim, anything we can say, although it's a bit early?

Jim Hassard -- Senior Vice President, Marketing and Market Access

Yeah. It's a bit early. I think I'll go back to -- Chris, our pricing and contracting strategy involves three principles. First, our corporate mission is obviously to provide cost savings to our customers, the patients, providers, and payers. Second, we seek to establish a value proposition for our customers that entails the product, the service, and the price, not just price. And then lastly, we aim to achieve our market share objectives in a disciplined way, as we've seen. I think in terms of the overall impact to the market, we're not releasing our ASP at this time. But we can look at what's available publicly. And for the first quarter, for example, you can see that the ASP for Neulasta declined about 1% from December to March. And of course, the Mylan biosimilar -- after three quarters of it on the market, Mylan announced their ASP. And that was reported to be about 95% of the list price. So, what we see is a fairly disciplined reaction within the marketplace.

Chris Schott -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Great. Thanks so much for the color.

Operator

And our next question comes from Mohit Bansal with Citigroup. You may proceed.

Mohit Bansal -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Denny and Jim, a good question on [inaudible] dynamics, if we can get your comments here. So, so far, are you seeing any dents if you could have been able to make in that Onpro segment of the market? Or do you think the market is taking a more bigger, lot bigger launch approach and it could be model for next year's thing? How would you categorize that?

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Thanks for your question, Mohit. I'll let Jim handle that. But I will just say firstly that we are pursuing the entire market, the syringe business, and the Onpro business very, very broadly. So, we feel that the entire market is to be approached and has the potential for conversion. Jim, would you like to add some additional color with respect to Mohit's question on the Onpro?

Jim Hassard -- Senior Vice President, Marketing and Market Access

Absolutely. Mohit, good to hear from you today. As we've mentioned earlier, there are providers and payers that recognize the UDENYCA value proposition. There's belief that Neulasta Onpro represents a premium-priced option, an Amgen lifecycle management strategy, and a convenience at a higher cost. Early data through March-April -- when we look at the market share data, it's roughly 40% of the biosimilar share gain is coming from Onpro. So, as Denny said, we're actively competing for the Onpro share in the market. We're making progress. And we'll leave it to others to keep score.

Mohit Bansal -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Very helpful. Thank you. And then can you also comment on any plans for your own on-body device? Anything you are able to disclose at this point?

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Well, of course, we have announced to the market previously, Mohit, that we are pursuing the development of device. We have not provided timing for such. And we probably won't until we get a little closer and further in the development program. But we appreciate the question. And we certainly understand why it would be of interest to the market.

Mohit Bansal -- Citigroup -- Analyst

All right. Helpful. Thank you.

Operator

And our next question comes from Douglas Tsao with H.C. Wainwright. You may proceed.

Douglas Tsao -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Hi. Good afternoon. Thanks for taking the questions. Just in terms of the R&D expense, Jean, it sounds like there was a capitalization issue related to UDENYCA that affected the quarter. Did this set a new baseline? Or should we expect the R&D spend to go back to the level that it was previously? And then just curious. A question for Jim on the Onpro, just following up. You indicated that about 40% of the share to biosimilars was coming from Onpro volume. Is that evenly across the different channels or customer segments? Or are there any, in particular, that might be switching back to the presale syringe a little bit more, meaning hospitals versus clinics or 340B?

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Okay. Thanks for your question, Doug. So, JV, can you give a little comment on the R&D levels and so on?

Jean Viret -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Good to have you, Doug. So, in fact, let me clarify. There was not an issue really to capitalization. What happened is that post-approval, all the production related to UDENYCA becomes capitalizes inventory. And therefore, prior to approval, whole production was expense. So, as a matter of fact, R&D expenses came down quarter over quarter because we now started to capitalize some of the production, of course. So, at least we did another expense using the cap reduction further. As a matter of fact, we had more activities, I would say, in Q4 related to UDENYCA than we had in Q1. So, net-net, our R&D line came down from Q4 to Q1 of this year. Going forward, what we anticipate is that R&D expense will stay relatively flat and increase slightly toward the end of the year, as we indicated because we will start on a certain clinical trial related to our pipeline.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Important note before we get to the second part of your question, Doug, that as previously stated, we're not initiating any expense of phase three in this particular 2019 period of time. But those will probably materialize sometime in 2020. Now with respect to the Onpro penetration by segment, maybe Jim can handle that one.

Jim Hassard -- Senior Vice President, Marketing and Market Access

Sure. Thanks, Denny. Doug, we've just looked at it at the market level. As we said, roughly 40% of the biosimilar gain is coming from Onpro. We've not looked at it at the segment level at this time. It's way too early to try to look at that level of detail.

Douglas Tsao -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Okay. And then just wanted to follow up because I know Denny, you made the point, and you've been consistent with this, is you're gonna go after the entire market. Either Jim or Denny, just maybe qualitatively, are you getting feedback as you talk to large customers in terms of their willingness to stick with the Onpro?

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Well, I think that customers recognize there is an appropriate place in the treatment paradigm for Onpro. There's a patient profile there. It is a premium-priced product, as Jim Hassard pointed out. And we find folks are very open to talk about that when we discuss it with them. Hope that helped.

Douglas Tsao -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Yes. Very much. Thank you.

Operator

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you have any questions or comments please press the * and then the 1 key on your touchtone telephone. And that now concludes our Q&A portion of today's conference. I would now like to turn the call back over to Denny for any closing comments.

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Thank you very much. Thank you all for joining us today on our Q1 2019 call. And in closing, I'd like to mention three key takeaways for you. First, of course, we're very pleased with the very strong launch performance of UDENYCA. And I would like to thank my teammates for their outstanding execution and our investors for helping us build a required infrastructure and fund an infrastructure which enabled the success. Secondly, we will continue to support the transformation of Coherus into a growth company by leveraging our highly effective commercial infrastructure against future product opportunities. And then finally, our financial plans and performance are proceeding consistent with our guidance and our aspirations. We will be presenting at various investor conferences over the next few weeks including next week, we'll be at BAML in Las Vegas and then RBC in New York. We look forward to meeting all of you there and continuing our discussions. Thank you for your support of Coherus.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes our call. A replay of the webcast will be available on coheres.com. Thank you and have a great day.

Duration: 27 minutes

Call participants:

David Arrington -- Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs

Denny Lanfear -- President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman

Jim Hassard -- Senior Vice President, Marketing and Market Access

Jean Viret -- Chief Financial Officer

Ken Cacciatore -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Chris Schott -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Mohit Bansal -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Douglas Tsao -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

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