Elan reports first profit in decade

IRISH pharmaceutical group Elan saw its net loss widen significantly — due to a one-off cost — last year, but also posted its first operating profit for almost a decade.

When the previously reported one-off $206.3m settlement cost, relating to a court decision regarding its former drug, Zonegran, is discounted; Elan’s net loss for 2010 was actually 60% down from the previous year at $118.4m (€86.65m). The Zonegran cost technically boosted the loss from $176.2m (€129m) to $324.7m (€237.69m), however.

The company’s full-year revenues came in at $1.2bn, up by 5% on 2009’s total; driven mainly by a strong performance from its headline multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri, which saw sales grow by 18%.

An operating profit — the first since 2001 — of $73m was also recorded, up from an operating loss, in 2009, of $9.5m. However, 2010’s historic operating profit was before charges and gains and expenses and when these are factored in, the company actually made an operating loss of $188.6m. The loss per share also widened, slightly, to 56c — up from 35c per share in 2009.

That said, Elan’s management said the company met, or exceeded, its previously stated guidance for the year. Chief executive Kelly Martin referred to 2010 as “a year of tangible advancement”.

Elan said it expects to be cash flow positive with adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of around $200m, “driven by an acceleration in the growth of revenues and reduced operating expenses”.

Last year’s adjusted EBITDA rose 73% to $166.5m.

Revenue from the bioneurology business increased from $837.1m to $895.6m, while revenue in the Athlone-based EDT business was marginally down at $274.1m.

The amount of people using Tysabri, globally, jumped 17% last year — from 48,400 to approximately 56,000.

Elan’s share price was up by nearly 2% yesterday at €5.16.

Mr Martin added that this year the company will continue to focus its efforts “on the continuous improvement of operating performance, while simultaneously investing in and advancing science and therapeutics that may ultimately be of benefit to patients and their families”.

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