MedImmune nets 43 cents a share on record sales in 1st quarter

Human Genome Sciences posts a loss of 32 cents a share

April 25, 2003|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Gaithersburg-based MedImmune Inc. posted net earnings yesterday of $110 million, or 43 cents a diluted share, for the quarter that ended March 31, on record revenue driven by increased sales of its main product.

Of $436 million in revenue, $392 million, or 89.9 percent, came from Synagis, which protects against respiratory infections in high-risk infants. MedImmune also reported a jump in first-quarter sales for Ethyol, a drug to mitigate side effects of cancer treatment, and said it expects federal approval for its FluMist in time for the winter flu season.

Another Montgomery County biopharmaceutical company, Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville, reported a loss of $41.3 million yesterday, or 32 cents a share, on revenue of $1.6 million. That compares with a loss of $38.3 million, or 30 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2002.

MedImmune posted a loss of $1.1 billion, or $4.54 a share, in the first quarter last year, after $1.2 billion in one-time charges stemming from its acquisition of Aviron, now called MedImmune Vaccines Inc., in January 2002. Mountain View, Calif.-based Aviron was the developer of Flu- Mist, a product that some believe could eventually generate $1 billion in annual sales.

Adjusting for amounts related to the Aviron deal, MedImmune said yesterday, earnings in the first quarter would have been $113 million, or 44 cents a share - up 58 percent from the adjusted earnings in the year-earlier quarter.

"MedImmune reported very strong Synagis sales and beat our expectations," said Leerink Swann & Co. analyst Robert Parente, who rates the stock "market perform" and doesn't own the shares. "Now it becomes more about FluMist."

MedImmune Chief Executive Officer David Mott said he expects the vaccine to win final approval by July and to generate $120 million to $140 million in sales this year.

"We continue to make good progress with the FDA," Mott told investors and analysts during a conference call.

Leah Rush Cann, an analyst for Wachovia Securities, wrote in a research report yesterday, "In our opinion, sale of FluMist will accelerate MedImmune's earnings growth rate to one of the highest long-term growth rates in the biotechnology sector." The earnings for the quarter exceeded her estimate by 2 cents a share, Cann wrote.

MedImmune shares hit a new 12-month high yesterday, gaining 55 cents to close at $35.55.

Human Genome shares also rose, adding 81 cents to $11.22.

Human Genome, which has no products on the market, said its revenue nearly tripled, due to a payment from GlaxoSmith- Kline, the drug giant that is partnering with Human Genome in the development of a new cardiovascular drug.

"We continue to make significant progress toward bringing new drugs to patients, based on our understanding of the human genome," William A. Haseltine, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

Human Genome said it had cash and short-term investments of $1.44 billion at the end of the quarter, down from $1.49 billion at the end of last year but enough to support several more years of research as products are developed.

Bloomberg News contributed to this article.

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