Guilford Pharmaceuticals

(GLFD)

reported first-quarter financial results on Monday that were sharply below analysts' estimates.

For the three months ended March 31, Guilford lost $18.1 million, or 53 cents a share, on revenue of $8.73 million. For the same period last year, the company lost $11.2 million, or 37 cents, on revenue of $3.4 million. That compares with the consensus prediction of a 35-cent loss, according to analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

Guilford has been prone to drastically different results vs. analyst consensus predictions, perhaps because only five analysts track the company in the Thomson First Call survey. In the two previous quarters, Guilford performed much worse than analysts had expected. But in the prior three quarters, the Baltimore-based company's results were much better than the consensus predictions.

Guilford's higher revenue was due to increased sales of Gliadel, a treatment for patients who have undergone brain cancer surgery, and Aggrastat, which prevents the clogging of blood platelets in patients who have heart disease. But higher sales also came with higher costs for expanding and training the company's sales force and for new marketing programs. Marketing expenses for those drugs jumped to $6.9 million for the first quarter of 2004, from $2.7 million for the same period last year.

Guilford also said it is preparing for phase III clinical trials of Aquavan, an experimental injectable sedative that could be used in procedures such as colonoscopy and minor surgery. Phase III trials are the last of the trials a company conducts before submitting a product's application to the Food and Drug Administration. The phase III trials will enroll about 900 patients.

Guilford said it has completed a phase III trial of Aquavan, trying to assess the most effective dose of the drug. The company plans to release the data in the third quarter. Guilford licenses Aquavan from

ProQuest Pharmaceuticals

, a privately held drug company based in Lawrence, Kan.

In midmorning trading, Guilford's stock was down 10 cents, or 1.6%, to $5.98.