Encorium Group, the US-based contract research organisation (CRO) that has been trying to turn around a flagging business by repositioning as a vaccines and oncology specialist, reported operating losses of US$1.90 million for the first quarter ended 31 March.

That compared with operating losses of US$578,533 in the first three months of 2009. In the latest quarter, Encorium recorded net losses of US$1.92 million or US$0.57 per common share, versus losses of US$195,220 or US$0.08 per common share one year earlier.

The net losses were in line with the preliminary figure given by Encorium last week, when it also boosted its share price by announcing new business awards worth US$6.8 million.

Net revenues for the first quarter also matched last week’s preliminary results, dropping by 33.9% year on year to US$3.0 million. That included a US$165 million lift from favourable currency exchange rates during the three months to 31 March.

Despite the less than encouraging results, Encorium’s chief executive officer, Dr Kai Lindeval, reiterated his optimism about the clinical research market clambering out of recession, particularly where small to medium-sized biopharmaceutical companies were concerned.

“While additional financing is likely necessary, we believe our experience and capabilities combined with the recent new awards demonstrate the long-term potential we have to grow into a leading vaccine franchise with expertise in regulatory consultancy and strategic trial planning,” Lindeval commented.

Nasdaq action

Last month, and not for the first time, Encorium was warned by the Nasdaq stock exchange that it would be delisted unless it complied with the market’s minimum shareholder equity requirement.

The Company requested an appeal of this determination on 29 April, staving off the delisting. Encorium's common stock will now remain listed on Nasdaq pending a formal determination by the market’s Listing Qualification Panel at a hearing scheduled for 10 June 2010.