Acorda 4Q profit climbs; company buying Neuronex

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. (AP) -- Acorda Therapeutics Inc. said Thursday that its profit climbed in the fourth quarter on higher sales of its multiple sclerosis drug Ampyra and reduced spending.

The company also said it reached a deal to buy Neuronex Inc., a privately-held company that is developing a nasal spray version of the drug Valium as a treatment for epilepsy.

The news helped lift the stock, which added 65 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $27.13 in afternoon trading.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Acorda said its profit increased to $12.7 million, or 32 cents per share, from $3.7 million, or 9 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Revenue rose 9 percent, to $72.6 million from $66.8 million the prior year, on greater sales of Ampyra. The drug is sold outside of the U.S. by Biogen Idec Inc. under the name Fampyra.

Analysts expected Acorda to report a profit of 19 cents per share and $69.3 million in revenue, according to estimates compiled by FactSet.

The company said sales of Ampyra rose 9 percent to $57.2 million. Biogen is selling Fampyra in Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Australia, and it expects to launch it in most of the other European Union countries in 2012, Acorda said.

Revenue from its spasticity drug Zanaflex dipped 2 percent to $11.8 million.

Acorda said its total spending fell 5 percent on lower selling, general and administrative costs.

In its deal to buy Neuronex, Acorda agreed to pay $2 million upfront and another $500,000 to cover research funding for Neuronex's diazepam nasal spray. After a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration, Acorda will have an option to pay another $6.8 million to Neuronex and complete the acquisition.

Acorda would also pay the Morrisville, N.C., company $1 million after it files for approval of the spray, and Neuronex could get another $25 million if the drug is approved in the U.S. and Europe. Neuronex would also get milestone payments and royalties based on sales.

Diazepam is the active ingredient in Valium. Neuronex's drug has not yet been tested on humans.

For all of 2011, Acorda reported a profit of $30.6 million, or 76 cents per share. In 2010, it lost $11.8 million, or 31 cents per share. Its revenue increased 53 percent, to $292.2 million from $191 million, as Ampyra sales totaled $210.5 million.

The company said it expects $255 million to $275 million in Ampyra sales in 2011 and at least $25 million in revenue from Zanaflex sales and sales of Ampyra outside the U.S.

Analysts expect Acorda to report $297.4 million in total revenue, on average.