Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) reported third quarter earnings of 28 cents per share, well above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 22 cents as well as 21 cents reported in the year-ago period. The company, along with Bayer AG (BAYRY.PK), developed Nexavar (sorafenib) tablets, an anticancer therapy currently approved and marketed for the treatment of liver cancer and advanced kidney cancer in the US, European Union, Japan and some other countries. Onyx’s earnings come in the form of royalty and collaboration income on Nexavar sales. 

For the quarter, Onyx reported revenues of $69.1 million compared to $50.8 million for the same period in 2008 primarily due to an increase in Nexavar sales and royalty revenue and a decline in the drug’s commercial expenses. While revenues increased 36%, a 43.6% rise in operating expenses brought down Onyx’s operating margin by 450 basis points to 14.5%. R&D and SG&A expenses increased 63% and 21.3%, respectively. 

R&D expenses increased due to developmental programs of Nexavar for additional indications including thyroid, colorectal and adjuvant liver cancer and costs related to further development of another candidate, ONX 0801. Earlier, in September, Onyx began enrolling patients in a phase I study of ONX 0801 as a potential treatment for advanced solid tumors. This triggered a milestone payment of $7 million to BTG International Limited, which licensed the drug to Onyx. 

At the end of the reported quarter, cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities were $843.1 million, up from $458 million at the end of December 2008. The 84% increase in cash balance was primarily due to net proceeds of debt and equity financings in August 2009. 

During the quarter, Onyx acquired privately held cancer drugmaker Proteolix for an upfront cash payment of $276 million. This transaction gives Onyx access to Proteolix’s lead compound, carfilzomib, a mid-stage candidate for the treatment of multiple myeloma. We believe that the acquisition of Proteolix results in a significant addition to Onyx’s cancer pipeline.
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