Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) just hasn't seemed to catch a break in 2019 so far. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delayed a key meeting for experimental pain drug NKTR-181. Investors also weren't thrilled with Nektar's launch of a new company, Inheris Biopharma, to market NKTR-181.

But Nektar had an opportunity to get that much-needed break when it announced second-quarter earnings results after the market closed on Thursday. Here's what you need to know about the biotech's latest quarterly update.

Two people in lab coats and safety goggles working in a lab.

Image Source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Nektar reported that its revenue in the second quarter fell to $23.3 million from $1.1 billion in the prior-year period. Wall Street analysts expected the biotech to announce Q2 revenue of $26.65 million.

The company posted a net loss in the second quarter of $109.9 million, or $0.63 per share, on a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) basis. Nektar's bottom line reflected a huge decline from the prior-year-period GAAP net income of $971.5 million, or $5.33 per diluted share. The consensus analysts' estimate projected a Q2 net loss of $0.08 per share.

Nektar's cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments at the end of the second quarter totaled $1.8 billion. This was slightly lower than the $1.9 billion on hand as of Dec. 31, 2018.

Behind the numbers

Was there an asterisk with Nektar's huge year-over-year revenue decline? Yep, a big one. In the prior-year period, Nektar received $1.6 billion from its collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb. There wasn't a similar payment in the second quarter of 2019.

This contributed to Nektar's worsening bottom line. In addition, the company's operating costs increased by 18% year over year, mainly due to higher research and development costs.

The most important news for Nektar in the second quarter related to its pipeline progress. In June, Nektar presented data from its phase 1a study of NKTR-358 as a potential treatment for autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory diseases. It also presented phase 3 data for NKTR-181 and phase 2 data for bempegaldesleukin in combination with Opdivo in June at major scientific meetings.

Looking ahead

Nektar will continue being busy presenting at conferences during the rest of 2019. Investors will be even more interested, though, in what happens with the biotech's lead pipeline candidates.

The FDA is still scheduled to make an approval decision on NKTR-181 by Aug. 29. However, since the agency postponed the advisory committee meeting for reviewing the drug, that date could be pushed out.

Nektar CEO Howard Robin also stated that the company is working with its partner, Bristol-Myers Squibb, to finalize the development program for the combination of bempegaldesleukin and Opdivo. The two companies already have several pivotal clinical studies in progress for the combo.