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Arena's (ARNA) Q1 Loss Narrower but Revenues Fall Short

Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ARNA reported a loss of 9 cents per share in the first quarter of 2016, narrower than the year-ago loss and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 10 cents. Total revenues, however, declined 19.7% year over year to $9.8 million, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $11 million.

Arena recorded Belviq (weight management) sales of $3.5 million, down 10.3% sequentially. As per IMS Health, total prescriptions for Belviq were about 121,000, down 7.6% sequentially.

Research & development (R&D) expenses declined 15.8% year over year to $18.5 million. General & administrative (G&A) expenses declined 17.9% year over year to $6.9 million. Lower expenses reflected the reduction of workforce.

Focus in 2016 will remain on the advancement of the company’s proprietary pipeline candidates, which include APD334 (phase II for ulcerative colitis), ralinepag (in a phase II study for pulmonary arterial hypertension), and APD371 (pain; completed a phase I multiple-ascending dose study with favorable results). Top-line data on both ralinepag and APD334 are expected in the second quarter of 2017. Arena also intends to pursue strategic collaborations for certain clinical and pre-clinical programs.

The company is also seeking FDA approval for a once-daily formulation of Belviq (Belviq XR) with a response from the agency expected in the third quarter.

In addition to reporting first quarter results, Arena announced the appointment of Amit D. Munshi as President, Chief Executive Officer and interim principal financial officer, effective May 11.

Our Take

Although Arena’s first-quarter loss was narrower than expected, revenues lagged expectations. We remain concerned about challenges being faced in growing Belviq sales in the obesity market. Belviq will continue to grow slowly until results from the cardiovascular outcome trial (CVOT - CAMILLA) are out and included in the product label, if positive. However, results from the CVOT study are not expected until 2018.

Arena is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Some better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Cambrex Corporation CBM, ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ANIP and Heska Corporation HSKA. All three are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.

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