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PharmaZen boosts 2013 earnings on calcium pick up and new technology

Biotechnology company PharmaZen says full year pretax earnings rose 38 percent as it entered the retail market with its calcium supplement, StimuCal.

PharmaZen posted a $739,114 profit in calendar 2013, up from $537,108 in 2012, the Dunedin-based company said in a statement. Sales lifted 4.7 percent to $7 million.

Last year PharmaZen launched and patented StimuCal, the first time it had entered the retail market with a branded product. It developed the slow release calcium supplement after a link between spikes in calcium serum and heart attacks was established, which had impacted the calcium market and weakened its first-half earnings.

"While this is causing some short term pain, it is something we have seen coming for the last two to three years and have been investing heavily in product development to find a solution," chief executive Craig McIntosh said at the time.

PharmaZen said it is investing in product and capability to drive future earnings. The company expanded its manufacturing with a fluidized powder blender allowing precise measurements and this year expects to install a new spray dryer to complement its traditional freeze and vacuum drying capabilities.

Its trading division Waitaki Biosciences, the nutraceuticals and dietary supplements business, exports to Australia, the US, Asia and Europe. PharmaZen said 2013 had been a "challenging environment for exporters" due to the high kiwi dollar.

"There is no doubt that exchange rates and margins will again prove challenging for 2014," McIntosh said. "Through diversification of product range and increased capabilities, PharmaZen is well positioned."

The company's shares, which trade on the Unlisted Exchange, were unchanged at 60 cents and doubled last year.

(BusinessDesk)