Earnings roundup

The Pantry eyes acquisitions as it seeks to accelerate growth

From staff reportsAugust 6, 2013 

The Pantry is looking to acquire both individual stores and other chains to accelerate its growth.

CEO Dennis Hatchell said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday that the Cary convenience store chain is examining a number of potential acquisitions.

“In terms of the size of the chain, I don’t think we’ve put any size on it,” Hatchell said. “We’re just – we’re kind of open to whoever might be in our marketplace that would fit our strategy.”

The Pantry has 1,559 stores throughout the Southeast, primarily under the Kangaroo Express brand. The company has closed 140 stores since 2011 and is in the process of overhauling many of its remaining stores. The company completed 31 store remodels during the third quarter, and expects to complete between 70 and 80 during the fiscal year.

Hatchell spoke with analysts after The Pantry reported third-quarter earnings Tuesday that missed Wall Street estimates.

Excluding the impact of impairment charges, The Pantry reported net income of $6.4 million, or 28 cents per share. That was well below the $10.2 million, or 45 cents per share, that was the consensus among analysts who cover the company.

The Pantry has been working to offset declines in fuel sales at it stores with increased merchandise sales.

The company sold less gasoline during the quarter, and its profit margins on the fuel sold also decreased. Fuel gross profit was $53.8 million, compared with $67.1 million during the third quarter last year. Comparable store fuel gallons sold declined 4.4 percent.

Hatchell said in a statement that he is pleased with the progress the company made during the quarter, noting that comparable store merchandise revenue increased 1.3 percent, and the average sales per customer increased 2.5 percent.

The Pantry’s shares closed Tuesday at $12.11, down 27 cents.

David Bracken

Only eight months after an initial public stock offering, all the trends are moving in the wrong direction for Raleigh medical diagnostics company LipoScience. But company executives said Tuesday that they’re taking steps to reverse a worsening situation that led to the resignation of its CEO this week and downgraded financial forecasts.

LipoScience reported Tuesday that the market price for its product has fallen and the company has not been able to compensate for the price drop by sufficiently increasing sales despite investments in its sales force.

LipoScience sold 529,000 tests in the second quarter, 7.5 percent more than a year earlier. But second-quarter revenue slipped 4.2 percent from a year ago, to $13.3 million. The company posted a net loss of $2.4 million compared with a net profit of about $300,000 a year earlier

“While we increased the number of NMR LipoProfile tests ordered by clinicians, we are not experiencing increased unit volumes in line with the expansion of our sales organization,” said interim CEO Bob Greczyn. “We are taking proactive steps to address these issues including increased sales training and strengthened territory management.”

The company’s stock fell 20 cents Tuesday to $5.35.

The LipoProfile test measures lipoproteins in the blood that cause heart disease. The company says the test is more accurate than measuring cholesterol because cholesterol is an imprecise indicator of lipoproteins.

Last week, the company lowered its financial forecast and announced that CEO Richard Brajer had agreed to resign after a decade running the company. LipoScience installed Greczyn, a board member and the former CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, as interim CEO and launched a search for a new chief executive.

John Murawski

Cornerstone Therapeutics turned a profit in the second quarter as net revenue jumped 88 percent to $40.4 million.

The Cary company reported net income for the quarter of $5.8 million, or 19 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $4.4 million, or 17 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Cornerstone’s earnings were boosted by sales of Curosurf, which treats a lung ailment that afflicts premature infants. The drug had sales of $11.3 million in the quarter, its highest quarterly revenues ever and up 21 percent from the second quarter in 2012.

The company also reported $14.75 million in sales for its Zyflo asthma product, a 37 percent increase over the same period last year. Cardene IV, the hypertension drug that Cornerstone began selling last year, reported sales of $14.2 million in the quarter.

Cornerstone’s administrative expenses rose 55 percent in the quarter to $13.8 million, which the company attributed to increased spending on sales and marketing. That included the recent launch of Pertzye, a cystic fibrosis drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Cornerstone shares closed Tuesday at $8.99, up 46 cents.

David Bracken

Chapel Hill pharmaceutical company Pozen reported a narrower loss in the second quarter due to higher sales of its arthritis pain reliever Vimovo.

Pozen reported Tuesday a loss of $4 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with a loss of $5.1 million a year ago. Revenue totaled $1.7 million in royalty payments from sales of Vimovo, which is licensed to AstraZeneca and sold in 57 countries.

Vimovo sales totaled $23.3 million, up 41 percent from the same period last year. Sales grew in all areas except the United States, where sales have stagnated at about $6 million for the last six quarters. Pozen Chief Financial Officer Bill Hodges said he doesn’t know why U.S. sales remain flat.

Hodges said AstraZeneca will continue offering Vimovo samples to doctors and co-pay cards to patients in the United States, but it will no longer send its representatives to market the drug to healthcare providers.

In March, Pozen filed a new drug application for a drug that combines aspirin and the active ingredient in Prilosec. It’s designed to prevent cardiovascular disease in patients prone to developing gastric ulcers after taking aspirin alone. The drug, a combination of PA8140 and PA32540, is the first of the company’s PA product platform.

The FDA is expected to take action on the filing by the end of January 2014, and Pozen reported that it may finalize a U.S. partnership for PA by the end of the year.

Pozen shares were flat in Tuesday trading, closing at $5.77.

Katherine Blunt

Furiex Pharmaceuticals reported second-quarter earnings late Tuesday that missed Wall Street estimates.

Furiex had a net loss of $23.5 million in the quarter, or 2.32 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $20.8 million, or $2.09 cents per diluted share, for the same period in 2012.

The consensus among analysts who cover the company was a net loss of $16.9 million, or $1.56 cents per diluted share.

Furiex’s revenues for the quarter totaled $3 million, compared with $13.1 million during the first quarter of 2012. The decrease resulted from a $10 million milestone payment from partner Takeda Pharmaceuticals in May 2012.

The company’s research and development expenses were $22.1 million in the first quarter, compared with $30.8 million during the same period last year. The expenses were due to costs associated with the development of eluxadoline, Furiex’s treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

Furiex shares closed Tuesday at $46, down 63 cents.

David Bracken

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