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Optimer Narrows Loss on Higher Sales

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Optimer Pharma’s second quarter 2012 net loss (excluding special items) of 1 cent per share was narrower than the year-ago loss of 52 cents and the Zacks Consensus loss Estimate of 6 cents per share. Higher revenues resulted in a narrower loss in the second quarter of 2012.

Revenues in the second quarter of 2012 came in at $49.8 million as opposed to $0.3 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue as per the Zacks Consensus Estimate was $44 million. We note that revenues in the reported quarter included a $19.9 million upfront payment from the Japanese unit of partner Astellas Pharma and a $12.6 million milestone payment from Astellas Pharma Europe on Dificlir (Dificid in the US) sales.

Second Quarter Details

We remind investors that Dificid, Optimer’s sole marketed product, was launched in the US in July 2011 for treating patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) - the most common form of nosocomial, or hospital acquired, diarrhea. Net sales of the drug came in at $15.2 million in the second quarter of 2012, up 5.9% sequentially. Dificid was launched in Canada in June this year.

Dificid was approved in the European Union (EU) under the trade name, Dificlir, in December 2011. Dificlir is currently available in the UK, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal.

We note that Optimer has an exclusive two-year agreement (through July 2013) with Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST - Analyst Report) to co-promote Dificid in the US for the treatment of CDAD. Co-promotional expenses amounted to $5.0 million during the second quarter.

Optimer is planning to expand Dificid’s label. The company expects to initiate a clinical trial evaluating the prophylactic use of Dificid in patients undergoing bone marrow transplant (BMT) by year-end. Optimer will be initiating another study on Dificid in CDAD patients, experiencing multiple recurrences, in the second half of 2013.

Both selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses (up 95.5%) and research & development (R&D) expenses (up 12.3%) shot up during the reported quarter. The massive increase in SG&A expenses was primarily attributable to the costs incurred by Optimer for the commercialization and marketing of Dificid. The increase in R&D expenses was attributable to higher health economics along with outcomes research costs.

Our Recommendation

Currently, we have a Neutral stance on Optimer in the long run. The company carries a Zacks #3 Rank (“Hold” rating) in the short run. We are pleased with the company’s effort to expand Dificid’s market globally. We remain concern about Optimer’s dependence on a single product for growth.

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