Pfizer raises full-year earnings guidance as Eliquis, Ibrance drive first-quarter sales growth

Headline results for the first quarter:

Biopharma unit

$9.2 billion

+3%

Upjohn unit

$3.1 billion

-1%

Revenue

$13.1 billion (forecasts of $13 billion)

+2%

Profit

$3.9 billion

+9%

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"Our first-quarter 2019 financial results were strong, driven by continued strength from certain biopharma brands, primarily Eliquis, Ibrance, Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13 and Xeljanz, as well as strong operational growth from certain Upjohn brands, primarily in China," remarked CEO Albert Bourla.

This quarter is the first under which Pfizer reports results for its three new divisions, namely biopharma, consisting of the innovative health unit and a new hospital division, Upjohn, which comprises off-patent branded and generic established medicines, and consumer healthcare. "Our new commercial structure is designed to maximise today’s revenue growth opportunities while transitioning the company to a period post-2020 where we expect sustained mid-single-digit operational revenue growth through 2025," commented Bourla.

Other results:

  • Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13: $1.5 billion, up 8 percent, versus expectations of $1.4 billion
  • Lyrica: $1.2 billion, down 2 percent
  • Ibrance: $1.1 billion, up 21 percent, in line with forecasts
  • Eliquis alliance revenue and direct sales: $1 billion, up 32 percent
  • Enbrel (outside the US and Canada): $451 million, down 11 percent
  • Xeljanz: $423 million, up 30 percent
  • Xtandi alliance revenue: $168 million, up 6 percent
  • Consumer healthcare: $858 million, down 5 percent

Looking ahead:

Pfizer reaffirmed that it expects sales of between $52 billion and $54 billion this year, while earnings per share are now forecast to be in the range of $2.83 to $2.93, with both ends lifted by $0.01 from a prior estimate. The company additionally expects mid-single-digit revenue growth from post-2020 through 2025.

What analysts said:

Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan commented "overall we think these results are good enough given the pressure the stock has felt in recent weeks, but probably do not do much to change the fundamental debates around the stock."

Pipeline update:

Pfizer disclosed that it ended Phase III development of the combination of the anti-PD-L1 therapy Bavencio (avelumab) and the PARP inhibitor Talzenna (talazoparib) for first-line ovarian cancer.

Meanwhile, chief business officer John Young identified several investigational therapies for which Pfizer expects to complete clinical studies and potentially pursue regulatory approval after 2022, including treatments for diabetes and liver diseases as well as gene therapies.

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