Next year could see a return to profit for etrials Worldwide, the troubled US-based supplier of adaptive eClinical software and services, believes the company’s president and chief executive officer (CEO), Denis Connaghan.

In December e-trials instituted a restructuring programme centred on technological innovation and tightening the company’s customer focus. Three etrials executives, including interim president and CEO Chuck Piccirillo, left as part of the package.

Previewing the company’s financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended 31 December 2008, Connaghan said etrials’ “efforts to reconstitute and enhance our service delivery capabilities, and refocus the organisation with a more customer-focused approach, are making an impact and resonating with our target market. We believe our growth indicates that etrials could become profitable in 2009.”

That growth included US$5.5 million worth of new project awards during the fourth quarter, contributing to an “all-time etrials record” of more than US$24.8 million in awards for the whole of 2008. Other highlights included a year-end backlog of more than US$25 million, showing year-on-year growth of 30%. According to Connaghan, the company also “dramatically” reduced its operating expenses.

In the third quarter of 2008, a US$4.0 million charge for impairment of goodwill took etrials’ operating losses up to US$6.11 million, more than four times the US$1.49 million loss recorded in the same period of 2007. Net service revenues fell by 9.3% year on year to US$3.75 million.

Results for the fourth quarter and full year are due on 5 March 2009.