VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) reported a quarterly loss of $0.56 per share on Monday, but this was not an earnings story. VIVUS remains a developing story about its obesity drug Qsymia. Its revenue came to only $1.97 million, and that is shy of the $3.09 million projected by Thomson Reuters. The drug has been approved only a very short period so the real angle will come from how much the company guides sales to ahead.
Management tried to signal that it believes in the long-term value of its franchise. Investors have to believe in it too because the reception so far has been tainted, insurance companies have been slow to adopt it, doctors have been slow to adopt it, and the second and most recent denial for market approval in Europe all remain as an overhang here.
What investors need to pay attention to is that sales for the first quarter of 2013 are expected by the Thomson Reuters consensus to be about $16.4 million. For the full year 2013, the Thomson Reuters consensus is $100.8 million. If analysts believe that Qsymia (formerly Qnexa) is only going to generate about 60% of forward sales ahead like it did in the fourth quarter, then investors are likely to face a pounding here.
After falling 1.3% at $12.41, shares are down close to $12.00 in the after-hours session. VIVUS has traded in a 52-week trading range of $9.86 to $31.21, and the consensus analyst price target from Thomson Reuters was $19.59 before the effects of today’s earnings.
As always, watch shares of Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA) and Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OREX). VIVUS is the bona-fide leader of the obesity drug players right now, and the market value comparisons as of Monday’s close were as follows: VIVUS $1.25 billion; Arena $1.8 billion; and Orexigen $421 million.