Shares of Knight Therapeutics Inc. (GUD-T) have been rising after the Montreal-based global specialty pharmaceutical company’s fourth-quarter revenues beat expectations, but the stock is still well off its highs.
The stock rose by as much as 12 per cent to $5.58 since the company reported a 48-per-cent jump in revenues for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Still, the stock is down about 30 per cent from its 52-week high of $8.08 reached on April 24 last year. Knight shares were worth more than $10 in the spring of 2017. The stock, which went public in the spring of 2014, hit a seven-year low of $4.88 on March 4.
Recently, the company, which focuses on acquiring or in-licensing innovative pharmaceutical products, has been hit with COVID-19-related challenges in its core Latin American division, including delayed product launches and rationing of inventory by wholesalers.
Its fourth-quarter revenues rose to $55.2-million up from $37.3-million a year earlier, driven in part by the full quarter impact of its 2019 acquisition of Latin American oncology drug specialist Grupo Biotoscana Investments (GBT) versus just one month in the fourth quarter a year earlier. Revenue also bounced back from wholesalers reducing inventories in the third quarter amid the pandemic, analysts said. Analysts were expecting revenue to come in at about $49-million.
Net income was $4.5-million or 6.3 cents per share versus a loss of $3.2-million or 4.9 cents a year ago. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $1.7-million down 71 per cent from $6.2-million a year ago, due largely to an inventory write-off of about $3.3-million in the fourth quarter of 2020 as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on certain new product launches.
“Overall, we view the company as representing good value for long-term investors, with the equity currently trading below its book value per share,” Raymond James analyst David Novak said in an e-mail to the Globe. He has an “outperform” (similar to buy) and $8 target on the stock.
In a March 25 note to clients, Mr. Novak, citing management commentary, said the company saw a “robust sequential growth” in the fourth quarter due to an increase in inventory uptake among wholesalers as well as an increase in the number of oncology procedures and “seasonal effects” in Latin America.
“Although Knight has experienced some margin contraction as a result of a change in its product mix, we expect operating margins to stabilize over the near-medium term as the company wraps up its operational integration with Grupo Biotoscana (GBT),” he wrote. “With the pace of COVID-19 vaccination delivery expected to accelerate in key markets, we believe that Knight remains well-positioned to leverage its robust operating profile and balance sheet to drive shareholder value.”
Paradigm Capital analyst Scott McAuley, who has a “buy” and $8 target, said in an email to the Globe that GBT deal was intended to draw big-name pharma partners, but needed some upgrades first, “which are being delayed by COVID.”
Still, he says the company has “significant financial resources, and I think the market is recognizing how far down the stock has gone relative to those assets. Investors should continue to look at the story with a long-term view and the company needs to demonstrate that they can bring on new large partners to this expanded pharmaceutical platform.”
In a March 26 note to clients, he wrote that GBT “significantly expanded the company’s geographic and product scope and created a Pan-American (ex-U.S.) pharmaceutical company,” with more than 100 products marketed across 11 countries.
Bloom, Burton & Co. analyst David Martin, who increased his target to $8 from $7 after the earnings report, said the company’s fourth-quarter revenues are tracking closer to the $60-million per quarter expected before COVID-19.
“This should give investors confidence that the core [Latin American] business is poised to return to a healthy state once the pandemic passes,” he wrote in a March 26 note. “That said, the pandemic is resulting in a new wave of shutdowns in many [Latin American] countries.”
Mr. Martin also upgraded his rating to “buy” from “accumulate,” which means he expects the stock to “materially outperform” the sector average over the next 12 months.
National Bank Financial analyst Endri Leno has an “outperform” (similar to buy) recommendation and a $6.75 target on the stock.
While the pandemic-related inventory issues in Latin America, which led to writedowns, “appear to have normalized” in the fourth quarter, he’s watching to see what happens this year.
“We expect GUD, given experience with delayed launches in 2020, to be in a better position to reduce excess inventory write-offs in 2021,” he said in a March 25 note, citing the company’s ticker symbol, “GUD.”
Stifel GMP analysts Justin Keywood and Matthew Buckles have a “hold” and $5.50 target on the stock. In a March 25 note, the analyst described the results as “mixed as compared to estimates but demonstrated good management in the context of a challenging backdrop with pandemic related headwinds” in Latin America.
“Knight continues to have a solid balance sheet with $325-million in net cash and equivalents or [about] $2.50/share and GBT is expected to be marginally profitable in the near-term but headwinds remain,” the analysts wrote. “We see a good long term platform with Knight/GBT but there remains uncertainty in the near-term and as a result we remain conservative... .”
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