September 22, 2023
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Atara reports growing losses, but plenty of cash left


Atara Biotherapeutics continued seeing losses in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, but has enough cash on hand to remain solvent as it awaits news on its tab-cel therapy treatment in early 2022.

Atara, a South San Francisco-based immunotherapy based company with major operations in Westlake Village, reported net losses of $84.7 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, in a Nov. 5 quarterly report. In the same quarter last year, Atara had net losses of $74.3 million. 

The big increase in net losses came from research and development expenses, which grew to $70.3 million in the third quarter of 2021, as compared to $59.9 million in the same period, a year ago.

According to the company, the increased expenses are a result of increased research and clinical trial costs related to two of the company’s programs as well as higher employee-related costs due to increased headcount.

Atara did generate $5.4 million in revenue in license and collaboration, due to activities performed under a collaboration agreement with Bayer. Atara did not generate any license and collaboration revenue in the third quarter of 2020.

Atara’s stock took a hit after the earnings announcement. Shares closed at $19.93 on Nov. 4, and were 8.7% the following day, to close at $18.17 on Nov. 5.

The company is preparing for the launch of its tab-cel therapy, which aims to treat people suffering from certain cancers and tumors after organ transplant.

Based on discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Atara expects to complete submission for tab-cel in the first quarter of 2022. 

Atara currently holds over $333 million in cash, cash equivalents and small investments. It believes that its cash as of Sept. 30, 2021, along with projected revenue from tab-cel sales, is sufficient to fund its operations into 2023.