Who wouldn't like staggeringly high year-over-year revenue growth? That's what Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings (CRBP -2.00%) delivered when it announced its 2018 fourth-quarter results in March. The catch, though, was that Corbus didn't have any revenue in the prior-year period.

Corbus announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Thursday. This time around, the company did have some revenue to compare against in the same quarter of last year. But revenue wasn't its most important financial metric. Here's what you need to know about Corbus' Q1 results.

Woman using pipette to fill small vials

Image source: Getty Images

By the numbers

Corbus announced Q1 revenue of $1.9 million, a 90% increase from the prior-year period. The company's reported revenue was higher than analysts' average revenue estimate of $1.53 million.

How did Corbus' bottom line look in the first quarter? The biotech reported a net loss of $26.2 million, or $0.43 per share, on GAAP basis, compared to $11.7 million, or $0.21 per share, in the same period in 2018. The consensus analysts' estimate was for a Q1 net loss of $0.27 per share.

Corbus ended the first quarter with cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments of $89.9 million. This was an increase from the $71 million on hand as of March 31, 2019.

Behind the numbers

The company's revenue increased due to development awards that Corbus received. In the first quarter, Corbus received $900,000 from its Development Award Agreement with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Corbus' bottom line worsened in the first quarter despite its higher revenue. Operating expenses soared 82% year over year to $28.4 million. This increase was largely due to higher spending for the company's clinical studies, expenses to manufacture and supply cystic fibrosis drug lenabasum for clinical trials, staffing costs, and a jump in noncash stock compensation expenses.

Probably the most important financial metric for Corbus in the first quarter was its improving cash position. The biotech raised an additional $40 million in gross proceeds from a public offering of its stock. Corbus also received a $27 million up-front payment from its licensing deal with Kaken Pharmaceuticals.

There were several key developments for the company this quarter, including:

  • Completed enrollment in the Resolve-1 phase 3 study of lenabasum in treating systemic sclerosis.
  • Changed the primary endpoint in the Resolve-1 study after meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Added Rachelle Jacques to the board of directors.

Looking ahead

Corbus expects to begin clinical studies for its second candidate, CRB-4001, later this year. The drug will be evaluated in treating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD). Corbus is also working to select additional candidates for potentially advancing to clinical development from its portfolio of preclinical compounds that target the endocannabinoid system.

Results from the company's phase 3 Resolve-1 study of lenabasum in treating systemic sclerosis should be released in the summer of 2020. If all goes well with this study, Corbus anticipates FDA approval of the drug in the fall of 2021. The company also expects to announce initial results from its phase 2b study of lenabasum in treating cystic fibrosis in 2020.