Biogen Idec raises annual earnings guidance as third-quarter sales, profit rise

Biogen Idec announced Wednesday that third-quarter sales jumped 37 percent year-over-year to $2.5 billion, coming in broadly in line with analyst estimates. The company noted that revenue was boosted by the performance of its multiple sclerosis products Tecfidera and Tysabri, while net income in the three-month period surged 76 percent to $857 million.

"The third quarter was a period of significant achievement as we continued to make progress against our corporate objectives," commented CEO George A. Scangos, adding "we also launched Tecfidera in several European countries, furthering its position as a leading oral MS therapy."

Quarterly sales of the product more than doubled to $787.1 million, up from $286.4 million a year earlier, but missed analyst forecasts of about $800 million. RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee noted that Tecfidera's US sales of $638 million fell slightly short of analyst projections of $643 million. Meanwhile, revenue for Avonex totalled $741.8 million, up 1.2 percent over the year-ago quarter, while quarterly sales of Tysabri grew 25 percent to $501 million, consisting of $275 million in the US and $226 million outside of the country.

Biogen Idec also raised its annual earnings guidance for 2014, predicting earnings per share of between $13.45 and $13.55, an increase over a prior estimate of $12.90 to $13.10, which it said was "primarily due to updated business development expectations." Meanwhile, revenue growth for the year is unchanged from prior guidance and is expected to range about 38 percent to 41 percent compared to 2013.

"Overall, results look robust in our view, although it may not have exactly met expectations that may have been slightly high," cautioned Yee, adding "we think all the parts remain on track and continue to recommend the story with major pipeline events coming up in 2015."

In other news, Biogen Idec said that a case of progressive multifocal leucoencephalopathy (PML) was confirmed in a patient taking Tecfidera. The drugmaker noted that the patient, who eventually died from complications of pneumonia, used the MS drug for more than four years and experienced low blood cell counts for most of the treatment course. The company added that it believes that the risk profile of Tecfidera, which includes a potential risk of PML, has not changed.

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