Canadian biopharmaceutical company AEterna Zentaris Inc. said Wednesday it turned a $12 million profit in the fourth quarter as license fees rose while research expenses fell.

The company earned 19 cents per share in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $14.5 million, or 27 cents per share, for the same quarter in 2008.

Revenue soared to $40.2 million from $7.2 million.

AEterna said revenue rose largely due to the company recognizing the remaining unamortized portion, or about $30.4 million, of a payment received from French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis as part of a developing and marketing agreement.

AEterna said license fees rose to $35.2 million from $2.1 million in the fourth quarter while research and development expenses fell $1.6 million to $10.7 million. That was partially offset by an increase in selling, general and administrative expenses.

For 2009, AEterna Zentaris posted a loss of $24.7 million, or 43 cents per share, narrower than the 2008 loss, on higher revenue of $63.2 million.

The Quebec City company specializes in oncology and endocrine therapy.