A production bottleneck contributed to a disappointing first quarter for Portland-based ImmuCell Corp., but the company said it is gearing up for a comeback in the months ahead.

ImmuCell, which develops and produces bovine health products for the beef and dairy industries, released its first-quarter earnings report Monday. The company reported quarterly revenue of $2.9 million, down 19 percent from $3.5 million in the first quarter of 2017.

It reported a net loss for the quarter of $221,000, or 4 cents per share, compared with a net income of $584,000, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

“While the financial results for the three months may be off, I am already eager to report the results for the six-month period ending June 30,” ImmuCell President and CEO Michael Brigham said in a statement. “Our most immediate objective for the balance of the year is to increase our production output, regain any lost customers and position ImmuCell for consistent growth going forward.”

Brigham said the company was unable to fully meet customer demand for its flagship product, called First Defense, because of “a reduction in the biological yield” of colostrum, the active ingredient in First Defense, which boosts immunity to certain diseases in newborn calves.

“We have reacted by improving quality control processes, modifying production methods to increase yields and implementing manufacturing redundancies,” he said.

If the company had not run into manufacturing problems and had sufficient inventory to fulfill all orders on hand as of March 31, sales for the quarter would have been up 16 percent from a year earlier, ImmuCell reported. By the end of the quarter, the company had a backlog of orders worth roughly $1.2 million, it said.

“Customer demand for our products is up, but orders shipped during the first quarter of 2018 were below expectations, primarily due to manufacturing challenges related to the production of our First Defense product line,” Brigham said. “We expect to clear this backlog in June and proceed forward with adequate inventory.”

In 2017, ImmuCell brought a new product to market called First Defense Tri-Shield, which boosts immunity to three major causes of diarrhea, or scours, in newborn calves. It also completed construction of a $20 million production facility in Portland for another product that is designed to treat mastitis, or inflammation of the udders, in dairy cows.

ImmuCell is in the process of applying for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its mastitis treatment, which contains no antibiotics and does not render the treated cows’ milk unsaleable. In the quarterly report, Brigham said the company expects to obtain that approval by late 2018 or early 2019.

“We believe that 2018 will be an important year that sets the stage for our success in the coming years,” he said.

ImmuCell is a publicly held company that trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol ICCC. Prior to the earnings report’s release after the market closed Monday, the company’s stock was trading at $7.74 per share, down 4.8 percent from its closing price Friday.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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