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Nautilus' Net Loss Triples in Q4, Misses Platform Development Target

NEW YORK – Nautilus Biotechnology on Thursday reported a net loss of $16.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, up more than threefold from a net loss of $5.4 million in the year-ago period.

Loss per share for the quarter was $.13, which matched the consensus Wall Street estimate, and was lower than the $.17 per share loss reported for Q4 2020.

The proteomics startup, which debuted on the Nasdaq in June following a business combination transaction with special purpose acquisition company Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III, did not post any revenues during the quarter ended Dec. 31.

On a conference call following release of the Q4 results, Nautilus CEO Sujal Patel noted that the company "had not yet achieved our first broad-scale proteomic profiling milestone," a reference to the company's previous projections that it would be able to measure 2,500 proteins per experiment in early 2022.

He said that the company still expects to reach its goals of comprehensive coverage of the human proteome by the middle of 2023 and a commercial launch of its platform by the end of 2023.

Nautilus has developed an array-based protein analysis platform combining machine learning and iterative rounds of affinity reagents that the company believes will ultimately enable single-molecule measurements at proteome scale.

Explaining his confidence that Nautilus would manage to hit its 2023 targets despite missing its target of 2,500 proteins per experiment in early 2022, Patel said that the relationship between the number of probes available and the percentage of the proteome that can be identified is not linear. He said that while the first third of the company's affinity reagents would allow it to identify only a small proportion of the proteome, the next third of probes would expand coverage dramatically — to between 60 percent and 80 percent of the human proteome. Given this, the company expects its platform's coverage will expand rapidly as it adds probes to its reagent library.

Parag Mallick, the company's cofounder and chief scientist, said during the call that it expects it will need around 300 probes to reach comprehensive proteome profiling.

Nautilus announced in November a collaboration with affinity reagent Abcam to develop probes for its system. Patel said during the conference call that it has since signed similar agreements with three additional companies.

Nautilus' R&D spending in Q4 more than doubled to $9.9 million from $3.9 million a year ago, while general and administrative costs rose nearly fivefold to $6.9 million from $1.4 million.

For full year 2021, the company posted a net loss of $50.3 million, up more than threefold from $15.6 million in 2020. It did not report any revenues in 2021. It's loss per share for full year 2021 was $.60, up from $.54 in 2020 and above the consensus Wall Street estimate of $.58.

Nautilus' R&D spending in 2021 more than doubled to $29.4 million from $12.4 million a year ago, while general and administrative costs rose nearly sevenfold to $21.1 million from $3.3 million.

Nautilus CFO Anna Mowry said on the call that the growth in expenses was driven primarily by increased personnel costs. She said the company currently has 113 employees.

Mowry said Nautilus projected spending would grow by roughly 75 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 as the company continues to invest in personnel and its development pipelines. It also plans this year to make its initial investments in its commercial teams and commercial activities in anticipation of the 2023 launch, she said.

The company ended the quarter with $185.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $160.1 million in short-term investments.

In Thursday morning trading on the Nasdaq, Nautilus shares were down 6 percent to $3.36.