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Ligand (LGND) Q1 Earnings Top, Bad Weather Hits Captisol Sales

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated LGND reported first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings of $1.41 per share, which significantly beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.05. The company had reported adjusted earnings of 89 cents in the year-ago quarter.

Total revenues were $55.2 million, up 60.2% from the year-ago quarter. The significant increase was mainly due to higher year over year Captisol revenues and contract revenues. However, the top line missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $65.35 million.

Ligand’s shares were down almost 5% during after-market hours on May 3 following the mixed first-quarter results. However, shares of the company have gained 46% so far this year against the industry’s 3.4% decrease.

Quarterly Highlights

Royalty revenues were up 7.6% year over year to $7.1 million in the first quarter. Ligand primarily earns royalties on sales of Amgen's AMGN Kyprolis and Acrotech Biopharma’s Evomela, which were developed using its Captisol technology. However, royalties were hurt as sales of Kyprolis were lower than expected due to COVID-19.

Captisol sales gained 48.3% year over year to $31.3 million. The increase was due to higher sales of Captisol to support availability of Gilead’s GILD remdesivir, which is approved for treating severe COVID-19 patients in the United States and several other countries. However, Captisol sales were down sequentially and also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $45 million. Ligand stated that lower-than-expected Captisol revenues was due to loss of production in February at manufacturing sites in Southern United States owing to extreme cold weather.

Contract revenues were $16.68 million in the first quarter compared with $5.5 million a year ago.

Key Partnered Pipeline Progress

Ligand expects four of its partnered drugs to be approved and launched in 2021.

The company currently has 17 different OmniAb-derived antibodies under development through different partners. The leading OmniAb-derived antibody candidate, CStone Pharmaceuticals’ sugemalimab, is under review in China as a potential first-line treatment for advanced squamous and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Meanwhile, the FDA approved Sanofi’s SNY Sarclisa, developed using Captisol, in combination with Kyprolis and dexamethasone for treating relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma in March. Last month, Ligand’s another partner, Aldeyra, announced successful completion of a late-stage study on its Captisol-derived candidate, reproxalap, for treating allergic conjunctivitis.

Meanwhile, Ligand plans to start a pivotal study on its wholly-owned pipeline candidate, Captisol-enabled Iohexol, by the end of the first quarter. It is being developed as a contrast agent for hospital-based imaging procedures.

During the first quarter, the FDA accepted Merck’s regulatory application seeking approval for a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine developed using Ligand’s protein expression technology platform for priority review.

Maintains 2021 Guidance 

Ligand maintained its previously announced guidance for sales and earnings for 2021. It expects total revenues to be approximately $291 million and earnings to be $6.15 for the year.

However, the company stated that it may update total revenue guidance at any time during the year based on evolving demand for remdesivir.

Zacks Rank

Ligand currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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