The prospect of losing their NASDAQ listing has hung over Angiotech Pharmaceuticals for a long time. Shares of the once high-flying Vancouver medical device company have been slipping for years, from a meteoric high of $36.95 on February 6th, 2004 to mere pennies today. While the delisting, which will happen on January 13th, was a foregone conclusion as the NASDAQ requires a $1 minimum bid price, other issues around Angiotech are far less certain.
Heading into 2011, Angiotech’s financial health might be described as dicey. On Oct. 1, 2010, the company announced that it had not made the $9.7-million interest payment due to the holders of its 7.75-per-cent senior subordinated notes. And Angiotech may be running out of ways to deal with its financial problems; the company’s cash and short term investments position has been sliced nearly in half in less than a year, from $57.32 for the quarter ended December 31st, 2009 to $31.31 million as of September 30th, 2010.
At the core of Angiotech’s problems is its dependence on its royalty revenue derived from one partner, Boston Scientific. In Q3 of 2010, Angiotech royalty revenue from sales of its Taxus stent systems faced increased competition in the US. The Company saw a whopping 56% decrease, compared with the third quarter of 2009.
While some investors may fear that the loss of the NASDAQ listing and low share price may irreparably harm Angiotech by impairing its ability to raise capital, the company is providing at least a glimmer of hope. Q3 Sales of the company’s proprietary medical products were $17.3-million, or 33 per cent of total product sales.
The fight for survival in the face of declining royalty payments may seem like a lopsided one, but Angiotech management believes it has a secret weapon in Quill, a knotless tissue-closure device it acquired the rights to in 2006. In at least one independent study Quill has shown to 50% reduction in operative time, a significant number in a market that Angiotech estimates is worth US $1.7 billion.
With a share price slide that led to a NASDAQ delisting, declining royalty revenues, and the announcement of a lawsuit from former shareholders, 2010 is a year that Angiotech would probably like to forget. If 2011 is to see a resurgence in the price of Angiotech’s shares, Quill will almost certainly need to begin to realize its commercial potential. It is worth noting that in the company’s Q3 MD&A, two reasons are given for the increased losses “a reduction in royalty revenue from BSC’s sales of paclitaxtel-eluting coronary stent systems” and “an increase in selling, general and administrative costs…primarily resulting from the addition of sales and marketing staff to support our Quill Knotless Tissue-Closure Device product line.” Those shareholders who still hold Angiotech on the TSX after January 13th hope the latter was money well spent.