UPDATE 2-QLT posts loss; Visudyne sales drop 16 pct

Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:29am EDT

* Share loss $0.02 vs year-earlier EPS 16 cents

* Revenue rises 15 percent to $12.4 million

* Visudyne sales drop 16 percent (Updates with details, analyst's comment. In U.S. dollars unless noted)

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, July 27 (Reuters) - Pharmaceuticals company QLT Inc (QLT.TO) swung to a quarterly loss on Tuesday and said it now expects sales of its key eye treatment, Visudyne, for the full year to be near the bottom end of its previous forecast.

The company had forecast worldwide Visudyne sales in the range of $90 million to $100 million in 2010. Visudyne sales dropped 16 percent to $24.4 million in the second quarter, ended June 30.

Visudyne sales have been dropping due to competition from other recently developed treatments for age-related macular degeneration.

"The results were largely as expected," said Scott Henry, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners, who said QLT's future is tied to new treatments it is developing as Visudyne sales decline.

"For the outlook going forward ... you've got three data readouts coming for three different clinical programs. So if any of them do well, I think the stock should do well. If all of them do poorly not a whole lot should change because you have an enterprise value near zero -- kind of the 'heads you win, tails you don't lose'."

QLT shares were up 4 Canadian cents at C$5.81 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in very light mid-morning trade on Tuesday.

The Vancouver-based eye-care company said it lost $1 million, or 2 cents a share, in the second quarter, compared with a year-earlier profit of $8.6 million, or 16 cents a share.

The 2009 quarterly profit reflected $7.7 million of income from discontinued operations and benefited from significant net foreign exchange gains.

Excluding items such as stock compensation expenses and interest income related to a divestment, the company earned 12 cents a share for the 2010 quarter.

Total revenue rose 15 percent to $12.4 million despite the decline in Visudyne sales.

The increase in sales was the result of an amendment to QLT's agreement with Novartis AG (NOVN.VX), Visudyne's distributor. In 2010, QLT booked more revenue per dollar of product sales than under a profit-sharing arrangement that was in effect in 2009. [ID:nBNG501789]

The company said it has about $186.3 million in cash and no long-term debt or other outstanding obligations.

"We continue to deliver solid financial results as we strive to build shareholder value by appropriate spending on R&D programs related to the pipeline of innovative drug and technologies," said Chief Executive Bob Butchofsky during a conference call with analysts.

For the second half of the year, QLT said it plans to launch a phase II clinical trial of its latanoprost punctal plug drug delivery system for glaucoma patients. A punctal plug is a device that is inserted into the tear duct of an eye to block the duct to prevent drainage of liquid, which causes dry eye. It is also planning a phase II proof-of-concept study of its olopatadine punctal plug treatment for patients with allergic conjuctivitis.

($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Isheeta Sanghi in Bangalore; editing by Peter Galloway)

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