Arthritis drug Humira boosts AbbVie profits

AbbVie, the drugmaker buying Dublin-based Shire plc to lower its tax rate, reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates on strong sales of the arthritis drug, Humira.

Second-quarter net income rose 2.8% to $1.1bn, or 68 cents a share, from $1.07bn, or 66 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were 82 cents a share, beating by 6 cents the average of seven analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Revenue gained 5% to $4.9bn.

AbbVie, spun off from Abbott Laboratories last year, said on July 19 it would acquire Shire for $55bn, adding drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and rare diseases to diversify its portfolio.

AbbVie will also move its legal address abroad to lower its tax rate, making it the largest US company to do a tax inversion deal.

The North Chicago, Illinois-based drugmaker currently relies on Humira, a rheumatoid arthritis injection for more than half of its revenue. Humira sales rose 26% to $3.29bn in the quarter, topping analysts’ expectations of $2.97bn.

AbbVie is also developing an experimental triple-pill regimen for hepatitis C as a competitor to Gilead Sciences Inc.’s drug Sovaldi, which reaped $3.5bn in the second quarter. AbbVie expects to get approval from US regulators later this year. Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co are also developing therapies for the viral disease.

Not including any potential revenue from the expected hepatitis C therapy, AbbVie confirmed its 2014 adjusted earnings forecast of $3.06 to $3.16 a share. The company also said third quarter earnings, excluding one-time items, would be 77 cents to 79 cents a share.

— Bloomberg


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