Santarus Stockholders Get Their Share of Disappointing News
CEO: Gerald T. Proehl.
Revenue: $125.3 million in 2010; $172.5 million in 2009.
Net income/loss: Net loss of $18.5 million in 2010; net profit of $32.1 million in 2009.
No. of local employees: 339.
Headquarters: Carmel Valley.
Year founded: 1996.
Stock symbol and exchange: SNTS on Nasdaq.
Company description: A specialty biopharmaceutical company focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients under the care of physician specialists.
Santarus Inc. stockholders werent exactly hopping for joy after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined approval Feb. 26 of a product based on a new treatment for hereditary angioedema, or swelling of the face and airways, derived from rabbits milk.
And the San Diego biopharmaceutical concern added to shareholder disappointment March 3 when it reported weaker than expected financial results for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31.
Santarus posted a net loss of $2.1 million, or 3 cents per share, on revenues of $25.9 million for the quarter, compared with net income of $24.5 million, 40 cents, on revenues of $62.4 million in the year-ago period.
The quarterly results included $5.4 million in one-time expensed payments based on meeting certain milestones related to the FDA approval of Zegerid OTC, used to treat heartburn and related stomach disorders.
For 2010, the company reported a net loss of $18.5 million, 31 cents a share, on $125.3 million in sales, compared with a net profit of $32.1 million, 55 cents, on sales of $172.5 million in 2009. Santarus ranks 32nd on the San Diego Business Journals latest list of the Largest Public Companies, which is based on fiscal 2009 revenue.
CEO: Revenues to Grow
Gerald T. Proehl, president and chief executive officer, told investors in a prepared statement issued March 3 that he sees better times ahead.
"Following a series of business development transactions during the second half of last year, we now are well positioned to increase near-term revenues with two promoted products for the large and growing type 2 diabetes market," he said. "We also broadened our development pipeline and have a blend of late-stage and earlier-stage product candidates in our portfolio to drive medium to longer-term revenue growth."
Another Santarus executive said in a conference call that she expected the company to reach break-even on sales of $110 million by year-end 2011.
At least one analyst said the company is headed in the right direction, based on another product in the development pipeline.
Analyst: Huge Potential
Scott Henry, an analyst at Roth Capital Partners LLC in Orange County, kept his "buy" rating on the company.
"I think it is dramatically undervalued," said Henry. "I think the brand name drug Ultesa now in development has a huge market potential."
The drug, currently in stage III clinical trials, would be used to treat those patients suffering from mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.
Proehl said Santarus would file an application for the new drug with the FDA by the end of the year.
"It has risk," Henry said, "but to me the risk-reward is compelling. All this quarterly stuff is kind of noise."
In a regulatory filing, the company quoted the CCFA, or Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America, saying that inflammatory bowel disease affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans.
The Street View
To be sure, the most recent financial report was enough for some analysts to take a second look at the business.
The Street.com, the Web site sponsored by TV stock guru Jim Cramer, downgraded the stock to "sell" from "hold."
"The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time," said a news story posted March 4 at the Web site.
Santarus share price has a 52-week range of $2 to $6. The stock, listed as SNTS on Nasdaq, closed at $3.31 on March 8.
Regarding Rhucin, the FDA said the application was incomplete, so it couldnt complete a critical medical review.
The company said it would meet with the FDA in the near future to figure out how to correct deficiencies in the application.
Santarus chief medical officer said the company expects to refile the application to the FDA in mid-2012, with approval by the FDA in 2013.
In a regulatory filing, the company reports the US Hereditary Angioedema Association as saying estimates for those suffering from the diseases range from one in 10,000 to one in 50,000 individuals nationwide.
Tom York is a contributing editor for the San Diego Business Journal.