MEDTEC, the maker of the life-saving and cancer-preventing drug AZT, has reported its first profit since the company began trading in July 2017.
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has opened an inquiry into the company after a series of issues raised by investors, including the price it paid for the company’s stock, which is down by more than 30 per cent in the last three years.
Investors have complained that Medtec, which was valued at $US3.5 billion in the third quarter of 2017, has been unable to make any profits in a market where drug prices have soared by over 80 per cent since the early 2020s.
It has faced criticism from some investors, who have been critical of its ability to raise enough capital to continue operating.
The company’s chief executive, Ian Robson, has admitted that the company had struggled to meet its business targets and had to make tough decisions in the run-up to the launch of the new medication, which has a long list of side effects.
But Mr Robson has said that the business has come back.
“The company’s business has been doing well and I’m very pleased with the way it’s done, but I do recognise there’s a lot of work to do and I think we’ll be able to do that in the coming months and years,” he said.
He added that the price of the company has not changed significantly since its launch, suggesting that investors should be patient and do not take the stock at face value.
“We’ve had to come up with a lot to keep pace with the market but the market is moving very rapidly and we’re going to keep trying to keep the price down,” he told the ABC.
“I think you’re going, in my view, to see the value increase, the stock price rise and we’ll continue to do well.”
Mr Robison also said that investors had not been treated well.
“It’s been a very difficult quarter for the board and investors and we’ve had a lot going on.
We have made decisions to take a lot more capital, to take longer-term, to make some really tough decisions that have really put our business at risk,” he added.
Mr Roberson said the company would make a decision on its future “in the next few weeks”.
The company has struggled to raise capital for its drug development project, and has been forced to take on significant debt to finance its operations.
In 2018, it announced that it would close a $US7 million ($US11.3 million) loan, and in 2019 it took a $2 million line of credit.
It also said it would be raising a $5 million capital injection.
Mr Robertson said that while the company was unable to generate the cash required to continue with the development of the medication, it had been able to invest in other businesses and had invested in several new projects in Australia.
“This is not something we’re looking to just cash out and go out of business,” he noted.
“At this point we’re working very hard to raise the capital and we believe that the financial position will enable us to continue to meet the business objectives we have set out for ourselves.”
He added: “We’re also working to meet our operational requirements, which we believe are in line with the expectations of the market.”
Investors are being told to be patient, but the company still faces significant financial challenges, as the price has remained above the $US1,000 per pill that it was able to achieve in the early years of the drug’s development.
A key investor, investment firm M&G Investments, also criticised the company for not doing enough to manage its risks.
“If this were not the case, Medtronics would be in a much stronger position to achieve a profit,” M&M Investments chief executive Ian Rennie said.
“As it is, it’s in the red.”
Medtisco shares have lost over 20 per cent of their value in the past six months, and investors have warned that the drug could be downgraded by as much as 30 per, according to a recent analysis by market analyst Fiserv.