Optimer Pharma’s (OPTR) fourth quarter 2012 net loss (excluding special items) of 63 cents per share was wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 38 cents. The company had reported earnings of 28 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. Optimer suffered a loss during the fourth quarter primarily due to lower revenues.
Revenues in the fourth quarter of 2012 came in at $19.5 million, down 69.8% from the year-ago quarter. Revenues, however, surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $18 million.
We note that the massive year-over-year decrease in revenues was primarily attributable to a decrease in contract revenues, which was partially offset by higher Dificid sales. The company had recorded $122.7 million of contract revenues under its collaboration agreement with Astellas Pharmaceuticals Europe Ltd. in the year-ago quarter.
Optimer’s 2012 net loss (excluding special items) of $1.45 per share was wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $1.17. In 2011, Optimer had recorded earnings of 17 cents per share. For the full year 2012, the company’s total revenues declined 30% to $101.5 million.
Fourth Quarter Details
Revenues in the reported quarter included Dificid sales in the US and Canada along with contract revenue of $2.7 million under the company’s collaboration agreement with Astellas Pharmaceuticals Europe Ltd., Astellas Pharma, Inc. (ALPMY) and Specialized Therapeutics Australia, Pty. Ltd.
We remind investors that Dificid, Optimer’s sole marketed product, was launched in the US in Jul 2011 for treating patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (:CDAD) -- the most common form of nosocomial, or hospital acquired, diarrhea. Dificid was launched in Canada in Jun 2012. Net sales of the drug shot up 53.5% (up 5% sequentially) to $16.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily due to higher demand.
Dificid was approved in the EU under the trade name, Dificlir, in Dec 2011.
We note that Optimer has an exclusive two-year agreement (through Jul 2013) with Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST) to co-promote Dificid in the US for the treatment of CDAD. Co-promotion expenses amounted to $3.8 million during the fourth quarter of 2012.
Optimer is planning to expand Dificid’s label. The company initiated a phase IIIb study evaluating the prophylactic use of Dificid in patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation (:BMT) or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (:HSCT). Optimer also plans to initiate another study on Dificid evaluating the treatment of patients suffering from multiple recurrence of CDAD by the end of 2013.
Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses during the reported quarter were up 4.0% to $31.2 million. However, research & development (R&D) expenses were down 15.3% to $11.9 million during the period.
While Optimer did not provide any expense outlook during its conference call, it stated that it expects its cash flow to be positive by 2014.
While we are pleased with the company’s effort to expand Dificid’s market globally, we remain concerned about Optimer’s dependence on a single product for growth.
Optimer currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Meanwhile, other biopharma stocks such as Cytokinetics Inc. (CYTK) carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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