VIVUS' Q4 Loss Shrinks 70% as Licensing Revenue Soars

VIVUS delivers a much smaller quarterly loss on tighter cost controls and soaring licensing revenue despite relatively slow-growing sales of lead drug Qsymia.

Feb 24, 2014 at 5:24PM

Fat-fighting biopharmaceutical company VIVUS (NASDAQ:VVUS) may not have knocked investors' socks off with the release of its fourth-quarter earnings results after the bell this evening, but definite progress was made when it comes to reducing losses.

For the quarter, VIVUS reported total revenue of $44.1 million, a 21-fold increase from the $2 million it reported in the year-ago quarter. The bulk of this difference came from $34.8 million in recognized licensing revenue from Auxilium Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AUXL) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) for Stendra (marketed in the European Union as Spedra), a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

The remaining $9.2 million in revenue came from product sales, including $7.7 million from chronic weight management drug Qsymia, and $1.5 million from Stendra and Spedra. By comparison, VIVUS recognized just shy of $2 million in Qsymia sales during the fourth quarter of 2012. VIVUS noted that Qsymia prescriptions grew by 12% over the sequential third quarter to approximately 124,000 prescriptions written, and that the holidays negatively affected the number of scripts written by physicians.

Net loss, meanwhile, shrank an incredible 70% to just $17.2 million, or $0.17 per share, for the quarter, from $56.7 million, or $0.56 per share, in the year-ago period. This was primarily accomplished through the aforementioned higher licensing revenue which helped offset expenses, as well as a $13.7 million decline in selling, general, and administrative expenses and a 36% reduction in research and development expenses to $5 million.

Since VIVUS is still losing money, cash burn is an incredibly important factor for investors to monitor. VIVUS ended its fiscal year with $343.3 million in cash and securities, compared to $214.6 million at the end of its last fiscal year. The huge increase was attributed to cash provided by financing activities, as well as up-front licensing payments.

VIVUS made no mention of a forward revenue, profit/loss, or cash burn forecast in its report. 

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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