Lundbeck has posted record turnover for 2008 but a larger-than-expected decline in earnings and a disappointing fourth-quarter, especially regarding revenues from the antidepressant Lexapro, saw the Danish drugmaker suffer a share price decline.

The company noted that operating profit for the full year come in at 2.35 billion kroner, about $397.6 million, down 12.7%, though revenues rose 2.7% to 11.28 billion kroner. Lexapro (escitalopram), sold in the USA by licensee Forest Laboratories, had sales of 2.46 billion kroner, a fall of 5%, Sales of the latter declined 19% in the fourth quarter to 509 million kroner, impacted by a reduction of Lexapro inventories,

Nevertheless turnover of Lundbeck's own Cipralex brand of the antidepressant advanced 18% in 2008 to 4.83 billion kroner. The Alzheimer's disease drug Ebixa (memantine) climbed 14% to 1.88 billion kroner, while sales of Azilect (rasagiline), for Parkinson’s disease, leapt 57% to 263 million kroner.

In terms of R&D, Lundbeck noted that the Phase III programme for Lu AA21004 for depression and anxiety, which is partnered with Takeda, now consists of 14 trials and will involve some 5,000 patients. The company is also waiting for a decision from the US Food and Drug Administration regarding Serdolect (sertindole), its schizophrenia drug; the agency’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee will meet on April 7 to discuss it.
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Noting that neither “operations nor its financial position were adversely affected by the global economic crisis in 2008”, Lundbeck is predicting sales this year of 12-12.5 billion kroner and operating profit of 3.0-3.2 billion kroner. However, these figures do not include any contribution from Ovation Pharmaceuticals, the US firm agreed to buy last month for up to $900 million.

Analysts were looking for more details but Lundbeck said that will have to wait until the Ovation deal is finally done. Investors seemed unhappy about that as well as a 10% dividend reduction to 2.30 kroner; shares ended the day down 10.3%.

However analysts are still concerned that the pipeline is still not strong enough to help the firm overcome the patent expirations for Cipralex and Lexapro that are coming in 2012 through 2014. However chief executive Ulf Wiinberg said the upcoming takeover of Ovation and a series of “in-house initiatives provide us with a good starting point” to be a growth company “during the period 2012-14 as well."