GlaxoSmithKline expects lower drop in earnings this year; Q2 sales rise 7%, topping forecasts

Headline results for the second quarter:

Prescription drug sales

£4.3 billion ($5.4 billion)



£7.8 billion ($9.7 billion; forecasts of £7.6 billion)



£964 million ($1.2 billion)

Versus £441 million ($551 million)

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

What the company said:

CEO Emma Walmsley noted that GlaxoSmithKline "delivered continued good operating performance in Q2 despite the loss of exclusivity of Advair," with the executive citing "another standout quarter" for Shingrix, with sales of the vaccine expected to be "significantly" more than £1 billion ($1.2 billion) this year. "We are increasing our expectations for the year and have updated our guidance for 2019," Walmsley added.

"We also expect to complete our joint venture with Pfizer shortly, laying the foundation for the creation of two great companies: one in pharmaceuticals/vaccines; one in consumer healthcare," Walmsley said. Separately on Wednesday, GlaxoSmithKline announced that Jonathan Symonds will succeed Philip Hampton as chairman effective September 1 to lead the drugmaker through its next phase.

Other results:

  • New respiratory product sales: £752 million ($939 million), +16%, with "strong" growth in Europe and international regions
    • Ellipta product sales: £557 million ($695 million), +9%, despite a decline in Relvar/Breo Ellipta in the US due to post-generic ICS/LABA price pressure
    • Nucala: £195 million ($243 million), +38%, continuing to benefit from the global rollout of the product
  • Established pharmaceuticals sales: $2.1 billion ($2.6 billion), -6%, mainly due to the decline in Seretide/Advair
  • Established respiratory product sales: £913 million ($1.1 billion), -13%
    • Seretide/Advair: £412 million ($514 million), -30%, with the product facing its first full quarter of generic competition in the US, where sales fell 60%
  • Vaccine sales: £1.6 billion ($2 billion), +26%, primarily driven by growth in sales of Shingrix and meningitis vaccines, including Bexsero
    • Shingrix: £386 million ($482 million), +150%, above forecasts of £366 million ($457 million), boosted by "strong uptake" in the US, with Canada and Germany also contributing to growth
  • HIV product sales: £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion), +2%
    • Triumeq: £646 million ($807 million), -5%
    • Tivicay: £412 million ($514 million), +1%
    • Juluca: £84 million ($105 million)
  • Consumer healthcare sales: £1.9 billion ($2.4 billion), +5%

Looking ahead:

GlaxoSmithKline now expects earnings per share to decline by 3% to 5% this year on a constant exchange rate basis, lifted an earlier prediction of a drop by between 5% and 9%. The company said the revised guidance "reflects improved operating performance, lower interest expense and a one-off benefit to the share of after tax profits of associates in Q1 2019."

What analysts said:

"For at least the second quarter running, pharmaceutical sales were driven by the performance of the Shingrix vaccine in the US," remarked Andy Smith of Edison Investment Research. Meanwhile, Charlie Huggins, manager of the HL Select UK Income Shares fund, said "we think these are a solid set of results," although he cautioned that confidence in GlaxoSmithKline's drug pipeline "is still fairly thin on the ground, and it will be some time before we know whether efforts to reinvigorate performance under new leadership have been successful."

Pipeline update:

GlaxoSmithKline disclosed that it ended development of two drugs in its respiratory pipeline, including GSK2586881 for acute respiratory distress syndrome with pulmonary circulatory dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension, as well as GSK2862277 for acute lung injury. The company also halted work on the universal influenza vaccine GSK3277526A as results, including interim data from a Phase I/II trial, "didn’t support further development," as well as stopping studies of GSK3378455A for hepatitis C after a Phase I/II trial failed to meet its endpoint. GlaxoSmithKline also ended development of GSK2983559 in inflammatory bowel disease.

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