* 2017 rev forecast just under estimates, but
* Co is active on the M&A front - interim CEO
(Adds conference call details, analyst comments; updates share)
By Natalie Grover
Feb 16 Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc's
forecast for full-year revenue was not as bad as some investors
had feared, at a time when the rare-disease drug maker is
looking to steady the ship following the exit of its top
The U.S. biotech's flagship drug, Soliris, has fueled much
of the company's growth, but slowing sales growth in recent
quarters and looming competition have made investors jittery.
The future of the company hinges on the successful
development of its highly anticipated drug, ALXN1210, aimed at
treating the same rare blood disorders as Soliris.
The New Haven, Connecticut-based company on Thursday
forecast 2017 revenue of $3.40 billion-$3.50 billion, falling
short of the average analyst estimate of $3.54 billion,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"While revenue guidance implies only modest growth,
investors should be relieved, since fears about significant
slowdown in revenue were not realized," Cowen & Co's Eric
Analysts attributed the soft forecast to a stronger dollar,
disruptions to Soliris access in Latin America, as well as the
adverse impact of patient enrollment for ALXN1210's trials.
ALXN1210, which is in two late-stage studies, could eat into
Soliris sales as the experimental drug's dosing schedule is
designed to reduce the number of times it needs to be
administered to six per year from about 26 with Soliris.
David Brennan, interim CEO and former head of British
drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc, said Alexion is actively
looking at M&A opportunities.
Brennan replaced David Hallal, who justified the company's
$8.4 billion purchase of Synageva Biopharma, touting the
potential of enzyme replacement therapies Kanuma and SBC-103.
While Kanuma generated only $29 million in 2016, Alexion
said on Thursday it was not planning additional studies on
SBC-103, opting instead to wait for early-stage data to decide
the drug's fate.
"Management has essentially decided to discontinue SBC-103 -
making the Synageva acquisition increasingly look like a
miscalculation of historic proportions," William Blair's Stephen
The past few months have been choppy for the drugmaker, with
both Hallal and chief financial officer leaving the company in
December amid speculation that the board had lost confidence in
Alexion said in November it was investigating allegations
related to Soliris' sales practices.
The company, however, revealed last month that the probe had
found no instances of improper revenue recognition, but it did
identify a material weakness in internal controls over financial
reporting in some previous quarters.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb
Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)