PharmaKinetics Laboratories Inc., the ailing Baltimore biomedical firm, has completed a public offering that might mark a turning point in its recovery.
After surviving a year of staggering losses, a management reorganization and the shutdown of one major line of business, PharmaKinetics raised $5.1 million in a sale of convertible subordinated debentures in late April.
The company received net proceeds of $4.25 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other expenses. That infusion of cash, together with restored profitability and growing revenue, means PharmaKinetics' condition is improving, said analysts and company officials.
"They've weathered the worst," said H. Bertram Wilson, an analyst with Offutt & Taylor Inc. "They've turned it around 180 degrees."
"I feel great," said Steven A. Woodman, who took over as president and chief executive last June. "The crisis atmosphere is over and the financial constraints are gone. We should be able to do pretty well," said Woodman, who directed the recovery effort.
A year ago the company looked very different. PharmaKinetics was suffering a financial hemorrhage. It suffered a loss of $5.4 million (99 cents a share) for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1985. The company also ended the year with negative net worth (total assets minus total liabilities) of $2.8 million, and a deficiency in working capital (current assets minus current liabilities) of $4.8 million.
Founded in 1976, PharmaKinetics was one of many young, entrepreneurial biomedical companies in which the initial heady success led to overambitious expansion.
PharmaKinetics was founded to provide research services to pharmaceutical companies collecting data on new drugs. The company's nine-year-old biopharmaceuticals business tests drug products on healthy human subjects to determine how much of a certain ingredient is absorbed into the bloodstream as a result of a certain dose, and how much is retained by the body. That division has continued to operate profitably.
In 1981, PharmaKinetics launched a clinical efficacy program to test the effectiveness of new drug products in treating patients with particular diseases or ailments. By 1984, the company had established 35 centers in 35 cities and had a financial fiasco on its hands.
The clinical efficacy division's high costs, disadvantageous contracts and weak management shared the blame for the company's year-end loss.
The centers were set up with "incredible fixed costs," Woodman said. The costs included leasing space, buying equipment and employing a full-time medical staff. A wiser strategy would have been to contract services as needed from an established medical practice, he said.
Costs also exceeded revenue because of the contracts PharmaKinetics entered into, he said. Two major pharmaceutical clients agreed to have PharmaKinetics test a certain number of patients, but then canceled the contracts as soon as they had gathered the data they needed -- leaving PharmaKinetics without enough business to support the 35 centers.
Underlying these mistakes were management problems, including inadequate information about the centers' operations, Woodman said. "It all grew so fast, there were inadequate controls."
Woodman, who had served the company in a variety of jobs, took over as president and chief executive in June, replacing his father Alan G. Woodman, one of the company's founders. Alan G. Woodman also stepped down as chairman, and no successor has been chosen.
One of the son's first actions was to create an administrative/finance department and to recruit the company's first chief financial officer. By October, he had closed all the clinical centers.
The turnaround proceeded slowly. The company showed a profit of $65,633 in its first quarter, and a profit of $268,085 in the six months that ended Dec. 31, 1985.
But in December, the National Association of Securities Dealers (Nasdaq) threatened to delist the company because it did not meet the association's minimum net worth requirements. PharmaKinetics was removed from Nasdaq's national list and placed on its additional list, which includes small and troubled companies.
The biopharmaceutics business continued to grow, but the company was counting on the public offering to raise the cash necessary to avoid a potential default on certain debts, according to its prospectus.
PharmaKinetics offered 3,000 units at $1,500 each. Each unit consisted of a 7 percent subordinated convertible debenture with a $1,000 principal amount, and 436 shares of the company's common stock. Because the underwriter, Eastlake Securities Inc. of New York City, exercised an overallotment option, the total amount raised was $5.1 million. PharmaKinetics received $4.5 million of that amount, and had $4.25 million after expenses related to the offering.
The company's prospectus said it would use the proceeds to buy laboratory equipment, repay short-term debt, recruit personnel, implement a documentation and information systems control network, pay other expenses and provide working capital.
"With this offering, they have achieved positive net worth," Wilson said. "They are doing quite well now."
For the nine months that ended March 31, the company reported profits of $473,603 on revenue of $5.8 million. The revenue reflects the operations of the biopharmaceutics business, which has grown about 50 percent in revenue in each of the past three years.
Although concentrating on current operations, PharmaKinetics also is looking ahead, hoping to reenter the clinical efficacy testing business in 1987 "on a much more controlled and limited basis," Steven A. Woodman said.
Analysts said the prospects are good, especially with Steven Woodman in charge. "He's done an awfully good job of getting the company back on its feet, cutting costs and developing a viable strategy to compete," Wilson said. "They almost lost their shirts."