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Ligand (LGND) Q4 Earnings & Sales Top, 2021 Guidance Raised

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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (LGND - Free Report) reported fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings of $1.62 per share, which significantly beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.07. The company had reported adjusted earnings of 71 cents in the year-ago quarter.

Total revenues were $70 million compared with $27 million in the year-ago quarter. The significant increase was mainly due to higher Captisol revenues. The top line comfortably beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $54.27 million.

Ligand’s shares have gained 96.7% in the past year compared with the industry’s 15.5% increase.

Quarterly Highlights

Royalty revenues remained flat year over year at $11 million in the fourth quarter. Ligand primarily earns royalties on sales of Amgen's (AMGN - Free Report) Kyprolis and Acrotech Biopharma’s Evomela, which were developed using its Captisol technology. Royalties remained flat as sales of the partnered drugs were hurt due to COVID-19.

Captisol sales were $41 million compared with $7.1 million in the year-ago quarter. The significant increase was due to higher sales of Captisol to support availability of Gilead’s (GILD - Free Report) Veklury (remdesivir), which is approved for treating severe COVID-19 patients in the United States.

Contract revenues were $18 million in the fourth quarter compared with $8.8 million a year ago.

Full-Year Results

Ligand reported revenues of $186.4 billion, up 54.9% year over year. The company’s adjusted earnings for 2020 were $4.55 per share, up 47.2% from the year-ago period.

Key Partnered Pipeline Progress

Ligand currently has 13 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 of advanced squamous and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Meanwhile, the company signed more than 160 Captisol research use agreements and 13 clinical/commercial license agreements last year. It signed a 10-year supply agreement with Gilead to support Veklury production. It is also supplying Captisol to Gilead’s voluntary licensing generic partners for Veklury. During the quarter, Ligand’s partner, Sedor Pharmaceuticals, received FDA approval for Sesquient for treating status epilepticus.

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 fourth quarter, Merck (MRK - Free Report) and Jazz filed regulatory applications in the United States seeking approval for a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and blood cancer candidate, respectively, developed using Ligand’s protein expression technology platform. Serum Institute of India launched a pneumococcal vaccine, also developed using the same technology, in December.

Raises 2021 Guidance

Ligand raised its previously announced guidance for sales and earnings for 2021. It now expects total revenues to be approximately $291 million (previously $285 million) and earnings to be $6.15 (previously $6.00) for the year.

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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