Pfizer beats target with vaccine boost

Pfizer’s quarterly profit beat market estimates, partly helped by higher-than-expected sales of its blockbuster pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar. The company also raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Shares of the largest US drugmaker were up marginally at one stage. Pfizer sold $1.52bn (€1.3bn) worth of Prevnar in the third quarter, down nearly 1% from a year earlier, but ahead of analysts’ estimate of $1.46bn.

The vaccine, which accounted for 11.5% of Pfizer’s revenue, fuelled Pfizer’s growth until the last few quarters, when its sales have shrunk. “Prevnar was a notable beat this quarter,” Credit Suisse analyst, Vamil Divan, said.

“We view these results as refreshingly boring and, given how biopharma stocks have reacted this quarter to disappointing results or product announcements, we think boring is a good thing right now”.

Pfizer has been under increasing pressure from investors and Wall Street to pull off a large deal to reignite growth. Sales fell for a third straight quarter at the consumer-products business that Pfizer may offload, a slump that could pressure the price that the drug giant could get for the division.

The drugmaker plans to decide next year what to do with the consumer business, which sells brands including Advil, ChapStick, and Centrum.

The decision could impact a bigger, later deal that investors have been speculating about since Pfizer’s failed attempts to buy Allergan and AstraZeneca.

Pfizer’s quarterly results have been overshadowed by speculation about its larger strategic plans.

“We see nothing remarkable about the quarter, either way, and believe the market will be most focused on management M&A commentary,” said Jeffrey Holford, an analyst with Jefferies.

At the consumer unit, third-quarter sales dropped to $829m, from $846m in the previous three months. Its pharmaceutical business — which makes up more than 90% of the company’s sales — is doing better.

Sales of Pfizer’s breast-cancer treatment, Ibrance, surged nearly 60%, to $878m, but fell short of market estimates of $914m.

Ibrance faces competition from Novartis’ recently approved drug, Kisqali. Pfizer’s total revenue rose 1%, increasing for the first time in four quarters, to $13.17bn, in line with market estimates. Net income more than doubled, to $2.84bn, or 47 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, Pfizer earned 67 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate.

The company raised the midpoint of its full-year adjusted earnings forecast by three cents to a range of $2.58 to $2.62 per share. It tightened its revenue forecast to $52.4bn to $53.1bn, from $52bn to $54bn.

  • Reuters and Bloomberg


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