Celgene will buy drugmaker Avila for up to $925M 

Celgene Corp. said Thursday it will acquire development-stage cancer drug maker Avila Therapeutics in a deal that could be worth as much as $925 million.

The deal would give Celgene Avila's drug candidate AVL-292, which is being studied as a treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, one type of leukemia and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Celgene markets several cancer and blood disorder drugs including Revlimid and Vidaza.

Celgene said it will pay $350 million in cash for Avila, which is based in Bedford, Mass., and is funded by a group of venture capital firms. If AVL-292 advances through clinical development and is approved, Celgene could pay as much as $195 million more, and it could make an additional $380 million in payments based on the development and approval of other experimental drugs in Avila's pipeline. Celgene said it expects to complete the purchase in the first quarter.

The company also reported its full fourth-quarter results Thursday, and said its profit nearly doubled to $410.2 million, or 91 cents per share. In the fourth quarter of 2010, Celgene earned $209.6 million, or 44 cents per share. Celgene said its profit totaled $1.05 per share if one-time items are excluded. Its revenue rose 20 percent, to $1.28 billion from $1.07 billion. The results matched an estimate that Celgene gave on Jan. 9.

Analysts expected the company to report a profit of $1.06 per share on revenue of $1.29 billion, according to FactSet, although their estimates were greater before Jan. 9.

Sales of Revlimid, which is approved to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects plasma cells in bone marrow, and myelodysplastic syndrome, which affects the production of blood cells, grew 20 percent to $855 million. The company reported $104 million in sales of its breast cancer drug Abraxane, said sales of myelodysplastic syndrome drug Vidaza rose 34 percent to $189 million, and said sales of its multiple myeloma drug Thalomid fell 12 percent to $82 million.

Celgene said its profit increased 50 percent in 2011, rising to $1.32 billion, or $2.85 per share, from $880.5 million, or $1.88 per share in 2010. Revenue grew 34 percent, to $4.84 billion from $3.63 billion.

The company maintained its outlook for 2012, calling for an adjusted profit of $4.70 to $4.80 per share and saying revenue will grow about 15 percent, which implies a total of $5.4 billion to $5.6 billion. Celgene said the acquisition of Avila won't affect its results in 2012.

Analysts expect the company to earn $4.68 per share in 2012 on $5.49 billion in revenue.

Shares of Celgene slipped $1.08 to $72.71 in morning trading.

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