MedImmune Inc. reports a near tripling of earnings

Company attributes rise to sale of drug for infants

April 20, 2001|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

MedImmune Inc. said yesterday that first-quarter earnings nearly tripled from a weakened year-ago period, thanks to a 26 percent boost in sales of its Synagis drug to prevent infant respiratory infections.

The Gaithersburg biopharmaceutical company said it earned $78.7 million, or 36 cents per diluted share, on $245.2 million in revenue for the period. Synagis sales made up $221 million of that.

That compares with net earnings of $28.6 million, or 13 cents a share, on revenue of $205.5 million in the 2000 first quarter. Earnings from the year-ago quarter were negatively affected by an accounting change, however. Excluding that change, MedImmune earned $62.4 million, or 29 cents a share, in the 2000 first quarter.

When compared with those results, MedImmune's 2001 first-quarter earnings are a 26 percent increase over a year ago.

MedImmune sells Synagis to wholesalers and distributors, who sell it to physicians, hospitals and clinics. Worldwide, Synagis sales from distributors and wholesalers to those end-users grew 46 percent.

"Synagis had another very strong quarter," said David M. Mott, MedImmune's chief executive officer, noting that the company had added an 88-person specialty sales force to market the product in the United States.

Worldwide, Mott estimated, 115,000 to 120,000 babies had received Synagis during the 2000/2001 season for respiratory syncytial virus, which typically affects children in this country from October through April.

The germ is the most common cause of pneumonia and viral infection in the lungs of children.

The drug, which is injected monthly during RSV season for $1,000 a dose, is sold primarily to prevent infections in premature infants, who have underdeveloped immune systems, and those with chronic lung problems. It was introduced in the United States in September 1998 and had sales of $427 million last yar.

MedImmune's earnings matched analysts' estimates. Its shares closed yesterday at $40.46, down 91 cents or 2.2 percent.

Bloomberg News contributed to this article.

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