Akorn Inc. swings to a loss

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Akorn Inc. swung to a loss partly due to lower vaccine sales, but still performed slightly better than an analyst’s expectation. The stock edged up.

The pharmaceutical company, specializing in ophthalmology, anesthesia, antidotes and rheumatology, had a net loss of $5.1 million, or 6 cents per diluted share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30. That compared with a net income of $2.4 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter the prior year.  The estimate by an analyst polled by Yahoo Finance was a loss of 8 cents per diluted share.

Quarterly sales were $19.4 million compared with $31.9 million in the year-earlier quarter, a decrease of 39 percent.

Akorn attributed its net loss to lower vaccine sales, an increase in the unit cost of combined tetanus-diphtheria vaccines, and lower sales to wholesalers.  Also, Akorn took a charge of $1.1 million in the value of warrants issued in conjunction with the company’s renegotiated revolving line of credit and subordinated debt.

Akorn launched two generic drugs: Ketorolac Tromethamine Ophthalmic, the generic form of Acular, used to relieve seasonal allergy eye-itching, with estimated brand sales of $119 million in 2008, and Hydralazine Hydrochloride, used to treat hypertension, with estimated sales of $23 million in 2008.

Vaccine revenue for the quarter decreased by $8.5 million from the year-earlier period. Akorn attributed this to a flu vaccine supply shortage and to strong third quarter 2008 sales after the introduction of a single dose vial tetanus-diphtheria vaccine.  The company will not distribute the flu vaccine after the 2009 flu season.

The Akorn-Strides LLC joint venture provided Akorn $500,000 in equity earnings and sales of approximately $3.8 million during the third quarter.

The company did not provide fourth-quarter guidance but an analyst polled by Zacks Investment Research has a full-year estimate of a 17-cent loss per diluted share compared with 2008 full-year earnings of 7 cents per diluted share.

In the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, Akorn lost $22.7 million, or 25 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $6 million, or 7 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier period.  Revenue fell 17 percent to $57.7 million from $67.6 million.

Akorn’s stock closed Tuesday at $1.61, up 6 cents or nearly 4 percent.

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