Regulatory issues overshadow Hospira 2Q profits

By Bruce Japsen
Posted July 28, 2010 at 3:19 p.m.

Though Hospira Inc.’s second-quarter profits more than tripled from a year earlier, the company’s stock lost more than 7 percent Wednesday as the medical product maker continued to be dogged by regulatory issues.

The Lake Forest-based maker of medication delivery devices and injectable generic drugs had net income of $83.5 million, or 49 cents a share, in the period ended June 30. That compares to $25.5 million, or 16 cents a share in the second quarter of 2009, when it had reported charges related to its cost-cutting initiative, “Project Fuel,” that is saving the company more than $100 million annual and has cut several hundred jobs.
Revenue in the quarter was up 1.2 percent, to $968.2 million. Hospira said sales of specialty injectable drugs helped offset declining revenue from its medication delivery business, which has been hurt by the loss of sales from its Symbiq infusion pump, a product the company stopped selling due to a flawed alarm system.

In addition, the company has been unable to sell more lucrative products such as the popular anesthesia drug Propofol due to a Food and Drug Administration inquiry into quality control issues at two plants in North Carolina.

Hospira Chief Executive Chistopher Begley said Hospira has been meeting with regulators from the FDA but could not predict when the drugs or infusion pump would return to the market.

In part because of the quality and regulatory issues, shares of Hospira closed down more thanĀ  7 percent, or $4.09 a share, to $52.72, in the New York Stock Exchange trading.

Begley, however, said the company has momentum for growth in other areas.

“Hospira delivered another solid quarter, driven by strong performance in our specialty injectable pharmaceuticals business and by continued momentum of our Project Fuel optimization initiatives,” said Begley.

“We made significant progress in advancing our business during the quarter, launching our first product from Hospira India, commercializing our second biosimilar product in Europe and strengthening our position in acute-care proprietary pharmaceuticals. We are highly focused on executing our strategy of investing for growth and improving margins and cash flow, as well as on driving quality improvements across our global manufacturing organization.”

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