February 19, 2008 / 8:24 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 2-United Therapeutics Q4 profit plunges on expenses

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 Feb 19 (Reuters) - Biotechnology firm United Therapeutics Corp (UTHR.O) reported a 96 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, hurt by higher stock-option expenses and a lower income tax benefit when compared to the previous year.
 The company based in Silver Spring, Maryland, posted a quarterly profit of $2.0 million, or 8 cents a share, compared with $55.5 million, or $2.42, a share a year ago.
 United reported a stock-based compensation expense of $27.0 million, mainly due to options grants to its Chief Executive. It also recorded an impairment charge of $2.1 million related to the decline of its investment in ViRexx Medical Corp VIR.TO.
 Total selling, general and administrative expenses for the latest fourth quarter rose to $44.2 million from $19.2 million a year ago.
 The company recorded an income tax benefit of $7.1 million in the latest fourth quarter, compared with $47.7 million a year ago.
 Revenue rose 30 percent to $59.9 million, helped by higher sales of its pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, Remodulin.
 Analysts on average had expected earnings of 53 cents a share, excluding items, on revenue of $59.4 million, according to Reuters Estimates.
 United shares were trading down 22 cents at $87.78 in late afternoon trade on Nasdaq.  (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)   

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