AbbVie posts Q4 drop in profit, sales, despite Humira revenue jumping 13.4 percent

AbbVie announced Friday that profit for the fourth quarter dropped 27 percent year-over-year to $1.1 billion. Meanwhile, overall sales slipped 1.8 percent to $5.1 billion, in line with analyst expectations, which the drugmaker attributed to generic competition for its lipid drug franchise and unfavourable exchange rates.

Quarterly revenue from Humira climbed 13.4 percent to $3 billion, including US sales of about $1.7 billion, an increase of 18.1 percent year-over-year. For other products, Kaletra revenue fell 8.6 percent to $228 million, while Lupron sales decreased 1 percent to $209 million. In addition, sales of the company's cholesterol therapies Niaspan and TriCor/Trilipix plummeted by 88.9 percent and 85.4 percent, respectively, to $31 million and $29 million as a result of generic competition.

CEO Richard A. Gonzalez said "we are pleased with AbbVie's performance in our first full year as an independent biopharmaceutical company," following the split from Abbott. For the full year, profit was $4.1 billion, versus $5.3 billion in 2012, while sales rose 2.2 percent to $18.8 billion, meeting analyst forecasts.

"We intend to build on this momentum in 2014 as we invest in our key products, advance our pipeline, and prepare for significant product launches that will drive growth in 2015 and beyond," Gonzalez remarked. For 2014, AbbVie indicated that it expects revenue of approximately $19 billion, on earnings per share of $3.00 to $3.10. Analysts estimate earnings of $3.13 per share and sales of $19.1 billion.

AbbVie noted that its revenue guidance excludes any potential contribution from the expected US launch later this year of its all-oral, interferon-free regimen with and without ribavirin for the treatment of hepatitis C. The company said Friday that it is on track for regulatory filings of the regimen in the second quarter after completing its Phase III programme. "Two story lines dominate – the strength of Humira revenues in the here and now, and pipeline developments to fill potential shortfalls going forward," commented Barclays analyst Tony Butler.

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