Ariad Pharmaceuticals' Q4 Loss Widens 23% on Higher Expenses

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA  ) , the highly controversial and volatile biopharmaceutical company that had its lead drug, Iclusig, pulled from pharmacy shelves for a few weeks by the Food and Drug Administration and then reinstated with more encompassing warning labels, reported its fourth-quarter earnings results before the opening bell today.

For the quarter, Ariad reported total revenue of $8.35 million, which included $8.28 million in net Iclusig sales. Comparably speaking revenue was up more than 100-fold as Ariad reported no product revenue in the year-ago period and just $74,000 in total revenue.

Net loss, however, widened by 23% to $74.2 million, or $0.40 per share, from the $60.5 million loss, or $0.36 per share, reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. Ariad attributed this increase in losses primarily to a $21.6 million bump in operating expenses, which included a 4.9% drop in research and development costs and a 64.2% spike in selling, general, and administrative costs, tied to the sale of Iclusig.

Key points from Ariad's pipeline update include that it's on track to start a new clinical dosing study of leukemia drug Iclusig in the second half of 2014, and that, since Iclusig was relaunched in mid-January, 180 of 305 patients from the single-patient IND, or compassionate use group, have transitioned to commercial supply. Ariad expects an additional 50 IND patients to sign up by the end of the first quarter, and also plans to introduce a best-in-class new drug candidate in the second half of the year.

Net cash is always important for a biopharmaceutical company that's losing money, and Ariad ended the quarter with $237.2 million in cash and cash equivalents. Its forecast for fiscal 2014 anticipates that cash used in operations will total $165 million to $175 million, leaving the company with $60 million to $70 million in cash on its balance sheet, which it anticipates will fund operations until mid-2015. Comparably, the midpoint of Ariad's forecast calls for an 11% year-over-year dip in R&D expenses and a 4.5% drop in SG&A expenses for fiscal 2014.

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