Drugmaker AFT Pharmaceuticals is eyeing more growth as it continues its international expansion programme while also introducing a dividend policy.
A record annual result with double-digit revenue growth coupled with news of a dividend next year helped push the share price more than 10 per cent higher as investors liked what they saw.
Total revenue in the year to March 31 jumped 15.2 per cent to $130 million, driven by licensing of its flagship pain relief drug Maxigesic. Net profit rose 155 per cent to $19.8m with operating profit of $20.4m coming in ahead of guidance.
The board has declared to pay its maiden dividend in 2023, in the range of 20-30 per cent of net profit.
Managing director and chief executive Dr Hartley Atkinson said the result was pleasing.
"We set targets 12 months ago and obviously it's been a pretty variable operating environment with lots of curve balls so the fact that we've been able to deliver that result we are really pleased.
"We haven't necessarily had a lot of upside from Covid. In fact it's slowed a lot of things down – things like clinical studies are really hard to do during covid. Also approvals in some countries where they used to take a year are now talking much longer. So, if anything Covid has been a headwind not a tailwind."
AFT said the second half of the year was stronger, with a traditional sales boost jump around Christmas, and it was also given a boost from previously delayed product launches.
It said all its regions posted double-digit revenue growth, with its international business supported by the Maxigesic licensing income.
New Zealand revenue grew by 14.9 per cent, while sales in Australia grew by 12.3 per cent. Its Asian sales grew by nearly a quarter and the rest of the international business grew by nearly a third.
AFT said the tablet form of Maxigesic is now sold in 46 countries, including most of the major markets in Europe, and the company was hopeful of regulatory approvals for tablets in the United States later in 2022.
However, its intravenous formulation, Maxigesic IV, had its first launches in Europe and in the US, after the Federal Drug Administration accepted AFT's filing application to register the medicine in the US market.
The company said it saw considerable opportunities for growth and expected operating profit for the year ended March 2023 to range between $27 million and $32m.
Atkinson said getting an FDA tick in the US is a key next step for the company. AFT remains confident of getting that approval by the end of June.
"Clearly it's the biggest pharmaceutical market in the world so that's going to help grow our sales. Also there will be a certain stamp of credibility once we tick off our first US approval. It's a further stamp of credibility for us."
AFT shares recently traded up 36c or 11.2 per cent at $$3.57.
- Additional reporting RNZ