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said its first-quarter net loss widened because of investment losses and higher spending for research and development.

The Fremont, Calif.-based biotech firm reported a first-quarter loss of $56.5 million, or 65 cents per share, as measured by generally accepted accounting principles. The loss includes a noncash charge of $34.7 million related to losses on investments in common stock related to two corporate partnerships.

On a pro forma basis, minus the charge, Abgenix posted a net loss of $21.8 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $7.6 million, or 9 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts were expecting a net loss of 32 cents a share, according to consensus estimates compiled by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Total revenue in the quarter was $16.3 million, compared with $14.5 million one year ago. Contract revenue, derived mainly from the company's humanized antibody technology, reached $11 million in the first quarter, compared with $4.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

Abgenix is trying to develop its own drugs, and the cost of this effort is reflected in higher research and development costs, which totaled $29 million in the first quarter, from $16 million in the year-ago quarter.

Results from midstage tests of ABX-EGF, the company's lead cancer drug candidate, will be presented at the upcoming meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, beginning May 18. ABX-EGF is being co-developed by




Abgenix closed Tuesday down 5 cents, to $15.20 per share.