From my perspective, year-end earnings conference calls are more about looking forward to the year ahead than rehashing last year's events. For the most part we already know what happened last year. Three quarters of financial statements are in the public record, and any breaking news that was going to happen is already a part of the company's history.
What is considerably less clear is how the current year is going to play out. Especially when major changes are taking place. Take Protein Design Labs
A month ago, Protein Design Labs announced that it was acquiring privately held ESP Pharma. This purchase brings in three marketed drugs and another four drugs under development. Details out of that conference call were a little thin. We do know that ESP Pharma had sales of $90 million in 2004, up 30% from the prior year. And we also know that ESP was profitable. Protein Design Labs' management commented that this will accelerate the company's transition to becoming cash flow positive to 2006, instead of later this decade.
But that's about the extent of what was revealed. In the last call we were told to expect further details during the year-end call, which is going to take place on Monday. I am looking forward to it. There are a few particular pieces of information I hope are revealed. On the financial side, I'm interested in management's expectations for how ESP's products will perform this year, as well as what PDL's top line will look like. The combination of increasing royalty revenue plus the addition of these drugs should at least double Protein Design Labs' revenue over 2004.
I'm also looking for some clarity on the acquired pipeline drugs. Protein Design Labs has always been great about communicating details of its drug programs in the past, and I expect the same level of disclosure on the new programs. This is important because the acquisition essentially doubled the size of the company's pipeline. I'd like to see some development timelines, with comments on why these drugs are worth developing for their respective markets.
This is an exciting time for Protein Design Labs and its shareholders. The company put up a lot of money to buy ESP and, in doing so, really diversified its product portfolio. I'm very interested in how the combined company is going to look this year, and we should get a lot of those details during Monday's call.
For additional articles on the biotech industry, see:
- Is Big Pharma a Bargain?
- Searching for Cheap Biotechs
- Investing in a Cure
- Grading Old-School Biotech
- Biotech Class of 2004
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