Vectura unveils special dividend after GlaxoSmithKline pays millions for litigation

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Vectura Group PLC (LON:VEC) said it will pay a special dividend of £115mln during 2021 after receiving a big payout from GlaxoSmithKline over a US patent litigation.

The FTSE 250 pharma company has received £127.6mln, including payment for the settlement of damages, associated interest and royalties accrued up to the third quarter, and payment for fourth-quarter ongoing royalties.

READ: Vectura down to neutral as Citi says valuation fair following recent trading update

Vectura said it believes it has enough funds to execute its growth plans so it will distribute the excess to shareholders.

Last November, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied GSK’s motions regarding Vectura’s US patent 8303991, which covers three of GSK’s Ellipta products sold in the US.

Looking ahead, Vectura said the revenue from CDMO agreements will more than triple this year, while sales from co-development contracts are expected to remain broadly in-line with 2020.

Pharma companies tend to outsource inhalation drugs to contract development and manufacturing organisations (CDMOs) when they lack proper in-house capabilities.

Vectura is looking to become “an industry-leading” inhalation CDMO, having signed 18 new contracts during 2020, contributing £3mln to revenues in the second half.

It also produces its own products, such as flutiform, which is expected to bring in £75-80mln of sales this year after benefitting from partner stock builds in both 2019 and 2020, driven by moves towards more conservative stock holding policies given supply chain uncertainties.

Royalties and other marketed revenues benefited from US$17mln approval milestones in 2020, following approval of generic Advair and Enerzair Breezhaler. Excluding milestones and any 2021 royalty contributions from Hikma (LON:HIK) and GSK, underlying royalties for 2021 will remain broadly in-line with 2020.

The firm expects to spend £22-25mln in research and development, including continued investment in the generic Ellipta programme with Hikma.

In the year to December 31, revenue advanced 7% to £197mln with adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) up 42% to £61mln. Cash at period-end was 6% higher at £79mln.

“We are encouraged by the resilience and stability in the base businesses and note positive momentum in the signing of new deals over financial year 2020,” analysts at Shore Capital commented.

“We note the opportunity for 2021 upside from the US launch of generic Advair, continued progress in the transition to a CDMO model and the potential for further cash returns to shareholders in the form of share buybacks or special dividends.”

Shares rose 3% to 120.2p on Thursday morning.

–Adds analyst comment, shares–

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