With 2011 finally in the books, it's time to reflect on what transpired last year and which companies could be facing business-altering decisions in 2012. On today's plate, we have small-cap biotechnology company K-V Pharmaceuticals (NYS: KV.A)
But before we dig too deeply into what 2012 may have to offer, let's get a quick snapshot at how 2011 treated shareholders:
2011 Stock Return
$121.6 million / $450.8 million
Projected 5-Year Growth Rate
Source: Yahoo! Finance.TTM = trailing 12 months; NM = not meaningful.
Stealing a scene right out of Wayne's World, 2011 was more like a "camera one -- camera two" kind of year. The first three months were marked by the stock spiking higher, by more than 1,000% at one point, relating to the FDA approving Makena, the company's preventative pre-term birth injection. The final nine months of the year involved a series of bungles that would make the Cincinnati Bengals proud, securing CEO Greg Divis the No. 2 spot on my list of the worst CEOs of 2011. But these results are now in the past. Let's look ahead and see what could be driving K-V Pharmaceuticals' stock in 2012.
What to expect
The first thing K-V needs to tackle is its pricing of Makena. Last year, the threat of congressional involvement and a ruling by the FDA disallowing Makena exclusivity rights forced the company to drastically reduce its pricing on the drug from $1,500 to $690 per dose. At $690 -- still a marked hike over the previous combination of treatments that ran around $20 -- it's quite possible that K-V's drug may not ever return a profit following the significant capital invested in developing the drug with Hologix (NAS: HOLX) . Hologix smartly handed Makena off to K-V following approval, washing its hands of the drug and collecting $199.5 million in the process.
For K-V, establishing methods that make Makena more affordable and accessible to the public, along with bettering its public image are paramount to its success. Conserving cash will also be a primary objective for K-V in 2012. If 2011 proved anything, it was that getting a drug approved by the FDA doesn't guarantee that the drug will successfully sell. Dendreon's (NAS: DNDN) prostate cancer drug Provenge has had difficulty gaining traction after doctors, unsure of speedy reimbursement, balked at fronting $93,000 per patient, while Human Genome Sciences' (NAS: HGSI) lupus drug Benlysta hasn't exactly flown out of the gate, either, with demand for the drug weaker than expected likely because of the waxing-and-waning nature of the disease. Because of K-V's cash burn rate, I wouldn't be surprised if more layoffs were announced this year or if the company sought out a buyer. If anything, shareholders should be prepared for a secondary offering by midyear, in my opinion.
Up until recently, I've held out hope that K-V would be able to turn things around, but my lack of confidence in its management is making that reality very hard to believe. K-V is facing a potential cash-crunch soon and is having a difficult time marketing Makena. That creates a scary scenario for shareholders heading into 2012 and is the primary reason I'll be ending my outperform rating on CAPS this week.
What are your thoughts on K-V's future? Share them in the comments section below and consider adding K-V Pharmaceuticals to your free and personalized watchlist to keep track of the latest news with the company.
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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dendreon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that's always the best price: free!
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