(Reuters) – Drugmaker AbbVie Inc’s quarterly revenue beat Wall Street estimates on Thursday, as the decline in sales of its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira was not as steep as expected.
FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Shares of the company, which also raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast, were up nearly 3 percent before the opening bell.
Humira saw sales drop for the first time in years largely due to competition from new, cheap rivals. In the first quarter, the drug brought in revenue of $4.45 billion, a fall of 5.6 percent from last year but ahead of the $4.38 billion forecast by eight analysts polled by Refinitiv.
Humira sales have accounted for the bulk of AbbVie’s total revenue for years and the drug has grown to become the world’s best-selling prescription medicine.
However, it is expected to lose patent protection in the United States, its biggest market, in 2023, making 2019 a critical year for AbbVie to demonstrate it can compensate for the expected drop in sales by successfully launching new medicines and adding innovative treatments to its pipeline.
But the failure of cancer drug Rova-T, once seen as a strong contender for a new blockbuster, and setbacks to the testing of multiple myeloma drug Venclexta have pressured AbbVie shares, which are down nearly 14 percent over the past 12 months.
“The results or guidance raise do not fundamentally change the story, in our view, as concerns around Humira’s longevity remain,” Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan said.
To protect Humira, the company has signed a series of deals with rivals, including Mylan NV and Amgen Inc, to prevent competition in the United States before 2023.
AbbVie has also earmarked Skyrizi, its psoriasis treatment that won U.S. approval earlier this week, as a long-term opportunity.
AbbVie’s net earnings fell to $2.46 billion, or $1.65 per share, in the three months ended March 31, from $2.78 billion, or $1.74 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, AbbVie earned $2.14 per share, beating estimates of $2.05, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Net revenue dropped 1.3 percent to $7.83 billion but beat the average analyst estimate of $7.75 billion.
The company raised its adjusted earnings forecast for the year to between $8.73 and $8.83 per share, from $8.65 to $8.75.
Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel
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