UPDATE 2-QLT swings to loss, cuts Visudyne sales outlook

Wed Nov 3, 2010 5:35pm EDT

* Q3 loss/shr $0.01 vs EPS $0.16 year earlier

* Visudyne product sales drop 13 pct

* Lowers Visudyne 2010 sales outlook to $85-$90 mln (Adds analyst comment, details, shares. In U.S. dollars)

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Canadian pharmaceutical company QLT Inc (QLT.TO) posted a quarterly loss and cut its full-year sales outlook, hurt by weaker performance of its key eye treatment, Visudyne.

Sales of Visudyne, the No. 3 treatment for age-related macular degeneration, have dropped steadily in the face of increased competition, but QLT indicated during a conference call the decline appeared to be slowing.

QLT now expects global Visudyne sales of $85 million to $90 million, down from its March outlook of $90 million to $100 million. Visudyne sales for the third quarter dropped about 13 percent at $20.5 million.

"Sales of Visudyne have been heading south for six years," noted C.K. Cooper & Co analyst Jeffrey Cohen, but said the company has a 90 percent gross margin on the product.

PIPELINE TO DEFINE FUTURE

For the July-September quarter, QLT lost $697,000, or 1 cent a share, compared with a profit of $8.9 million, or 16 cents a share, a year ago.

QLT also cut its revenue outlook to $43-$45 million, down from its original view of $47-$53 million. Revenue fell 2 percent to $8.6 million in the third quarter.

Clinical trial results from its punctal plugs, used to prevent eye dryness, and a blindness treatment are expected by mid 2011.

"All of this data ... should greater define the future of the company," wrote Scott Henry, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners, in a research note.

With a healthy cash position of about $199 million, $163.7 million in royalties still to come from prostate cancer drug Eligard and a promising pipeline, among other factors, Cohen was bullish about QLT's prospects.

"I would say this is a pretty attractive biotech play...I like it, I think it's pretty solid," he said, adding it was among his top stock picks.

Analysts following the company have a "buy" or a "strong buy" for the company, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

QLT shares have shed about 10 percent in value the past 6 months as a result of weak forecast for Visudyne sales. They closed down 2.5 percent at C$5.69 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Gowri Jayakumar in Bangalore)

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