Pfizer's fourth-quarter revenue drops 9% as Ibrance sales miss estimates

Headline results for the fourth quarter:

Biopharma unit

$10.5 billion

+7%

Upjohn unit

$2.2 billion

-32%

Overall revenue

$12.7 billion (in line with estimates)

-9%

Loss

$337 million

Versus loss of $394 million

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

Chief financial officer Frank D'Amelio remarked "I am pleased with our 2019 financial results, which met or exceeded all components of our financial guidance." The executive noted that the "biopharma business generated 8% operational revenue growth, driven by strong growth from Ibrance, Eliquis, Xeljanz and Vyndaqel/Vyndamax," although the Upjohn off-patent drug unit, "as expected...declined 16% operationally, primarily reflecting the US loss of exclusivity of Lyrica in July 2019." 

CEO Albert Bourla reiterated that the pending merger of the Upjohn business with Mylan is expected to close by mid-year, after which the "new Pfizer" will be on track to become "a smaller, science-based company with a singular focus on innovation." 

Other results:

  • Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13: $1.6 billion, up 4%, with sales down 7% in the US, although they rose in emerging markets, helped in part by continued paediatric uptake in China 
  • Ibrance: $1.3 billion, up 13%, missing analyst estimates of around $1.35 billion, although Pfizer noted that sales were 14% higher in the US mainly due to CDK class market share gains 
  • Eliquis alliance revenue and direct sales: $1.1 billion, up 21%,  primarily driven by continued increased adoption in non-valvular atrial fibrillation as well as oral anti-coagulant market share gains
  • Xeljanz: $607 million, up 10%, with growth in international markets reflecting continued uptake in rheumatoid arthritis, as well as from the recent launch of the ulcerative colitis indication in certain developed markets
  • Lipitor: $468 million, down 11%
  • Lyrica: $433 million, down 67%
  • Enbrel (outside the US and Canada): $414 million, down 21%, impacted mainly by continued biosimilar competition in most developed European markets
  • Chantix/Champix: $282 million, down 5%
  • Xtandi alliance revenue: $244 million, up 29%, driven by continued uptake in the metastatic and non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer indications
  • Vyndaqel/Vyndamax: $213 million, up from $39 million in the year-ago quarter, boosted by US launches of Vyndaqel in May 2019 and Vyndamax last September for the treatment of transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy 
  • Emerging markets: $3.2 billion, down 2%
  • Full-year revenue: $51.8 billion, down 4%
  • Full-year profit: $16.3 billion, up 46%

Looking ahead:

Pfizer expects revenue in 2020 of between $48.5 billion and $50.5 billion, with earnings per share in the range of $2.82 to $2.92. The company noted that its outlook assumes a full-year contribution from the biopharma and Upjohn units, and no share repurchases in 2020. Analysts forecast annual revenue of $49.6 billion, on earnings of $2.90 per share.

Excluding the Upjohn unit, the company predicts full-year earnings per share in the range of $2.25 to $2.35, on sales between $40.7 billion and $42.3 billion. 

D'Amelio indicated that the revenue guidance for the new Pfizer "reflects anticipated continued strong growth from certain in-line brands such as Ibrance, Eliquis, Xeljanz, Xtandi and Inlyta, from recent and expected product launches such as Vyndaqel/Vyndamax, Braftovi, Mektovi and oncology biosimilars as well as from emerging markets." 

What analysts said:

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen noted that "a lot of the sales weakness was anticipated." She added that Pfizer's full-year "guidance and outlook for 2020+ remains robust with the company delivering on its goal to provide upside to expectations for the 'new Pfizer' (without Upjohn)."

Pipeline updates:

Bourla said that Pfizer now expects "the Phase III PALLAS study of Ibrance in early-stage breast cancer to complete in early 2021," having previously guided for a read-out this year. The company added that since its last update, it has discontinued work on seven pipeline programmes, including a number of studies of Bavencio alone and in combination with other drugs. Pfizer also halted early-stage development of the antibody-drug conjugate PF-06688992 in cancer and the PDE9 inhibitor PF-04447943 in sickle cell anaemia.

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