Last year, Aussie transplant Parnell Pharmaceuticals ($PARN) enjoyed strong demand in the U.S. for its products aimed at companion and food animals, driving its sales for the year up 58% to AU$13.2 million ($9.4 million), the company announced Feb. 24. It told investors to expect revenues to grow between 50% and 70% to AU$20m - AU$22m ($14 million - $16 million) this year.
Last year's results were in line with the expectations of analysts, who had projected the company would report 2015 sales of AU$13.2 million, according to Thomson Financial Network. Analysts are forecasting 2016 revenues of AU$23.9 million on average. Nevertheless, shares of the closely held company, which had been up in advance of the earnings release, fell 15% in morning trading to $2.71 per share.
Parnell made significant progress in 2015 growing its presence in food production. Its sales in the U.S. of products for production animals grew 269% to AU$8.1 million ($5.8 million), as the company expanded into 7 sales territories. Parnell, which markets hormone-based products for dairy production, also markets a companion technology called mySYNCH, which helps farmers improve their profitability.
"Most impressive was the rapid development of our digital technology assets which continue to evolve as a key differentiator in our value proposition to veterinarians and animal owners," said CEO Robert Joseph in a press release announcing the results.
Parnell has also been working to expand its presence in companion animal health. It is awaiting the FDA's verdict on Zydax, a drug to treat osteoarthritis in dogs, which the company anticipates will be approved later this year. During the earnings announcement, Parnell said it would be launching a new nutraceutical product for dogs, Luminous, to treat the skin condition atopic dermatitis, in the second quarter of this year.
During a conference call with analysts after the earnings announcement, Joseph said that Parnell was inspired to create Luminous after witnessing the success of Apoquel, an atopic dermatitis treatment from Zoetis ($ZTS) that is so popular the company initially had trouble manufacturing enough of it to meet the demand. "We know from our experience … that pet parents like to use a combination of both pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals," Joseph said.
Still, Parnell's U.S. expansion hasn't come without costs. Last year, the company's sales and marketing expenses nearly doubled to AU$11.8 million ($8.5 million), and its administrative expenses jumped 149% to AU$11.9 million ($8.5 million). The company reported a total loss before taxes of AU$13.7 million ($9.8 million).
On Jan. 20, Parnell sought to improve the liquidity of its stock by striking a share-purchase deal with Lincoln Park Capital fund. The deal was structured to allow Parnell to release small amounts of new shares onto the market. A day before the earnings announcement, Lincoln Park agreed to purchase 175,000 unregistered shares at $3.50 per share--a 10% premium to its previous closing price, Parnell said during the earnings announcement. Lincoln Park also has the option to purchase 150,000 more shares at $5 apiece.
"There are many investors who want to come in and buy the Parnell stock, but have found that challenging. So the initial Lincoln Park transaction was aimed at dealing that liquidity challenge," Joseph said during the call. "We're very pleased to have … Lincoln Park alongside us to help us manage capital and manage the growth of Parnell."
Parnell's shares rebounded to $2.87 by the end of the week.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect current share movement and currency adjustments.