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Loss Widens for Nektar

The company expects to lose $115 million to $130 million in 2006.

Updated from 5:44 p.m. EST

Nektar Therapeutics

(NKTR) - Get Free Report

said Tuesday it will lose more money this year than Wall Street is estimating, as it works on new products now that the inhaled insulin Exubera is ready for the market.

The revenue prediction of $160 million to $190 million is within the consensus range and includes $60 million to $80 million in royalties from


(PFE) - Get Free Report

for developing Exubera. Nektar contributed the inhaler that dispenses the dry-powder form of insulin.

The Food and Drug Administration

approved Exubera on Jan. 27, one day after the European Union endorsed the drug. Pfizer has said Exubera will be available by midyear. In the meantime, Pfizer is conducting an education campaign for doctors and patients.

Nektar predicts 2006's loss will be in the range of $115 million to $130 million, including $15 million in stock-based compensation charges. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call predicted a loss of $80.7 million, excluding one-time items. The consensus revenue forecast was $171 million.

For the fourth quarter of 2005, Nektar lost $35 million, or 40 cents a share, excluding items. Revenue totaled $32.9 million. Analysts were expecting a loss of 38 cents a share on revenue of $31.1 million.

On a GAAP basis, Nektar reported a fourth-quarter loss of $108.2 million, or $1.23 a share, compared with a loss of $19.3 million, or 23 cents a share, for the same period in 2004.

Looking ahead, Nektar said its expenses will include preparing clinical trials for an inhalable powder that treats fungal infections in the lungs of patients taking immunosuppressive drugs. Nektar also is testing an inhalable antibiotic to treat pneumonia among intensive-care patients who require ventilators.

Robert Chess, the company's chairman, said it would take five to nine months to conduct a search for a new chief executive to replace Ajit S. Gill, 56, who recently announced his retirement. Gill, who joined the company in 1992, has been CEO since April 2000 and a director since 1998. Chess will become interim CEO starting in mid-March.

The new CEO will join a host of other new executives. In recent months, Nektar has hired a new chief financial officer, controller and head of cost accounting.

Nektar issued its financial results after the markets had closed. In regular trading, the stock fell 74 cents, or 3.4%, to $20.91. After hours, the stock lost 2 cents.