Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine lifts quarterly results

Pfizer Inc. significantly increased revenue projections from its Covid-19 vaccine for the year, as sales from the shot over the first three months of 2021 lifted the company to a stronger quarterly profit.

Pfizer said Tuesday that its vaccine, the most widely distributed of the three that have been authorized for use in the U.S., contributed revenue of $3.5 billion in the first three months of 2021 as the U.S. vaccination campaign kicked into high gear. Over the course of the full year, Pfizer now expects the vaccine to generate $26 billion in sales. It had previously forecast $15 billion in sales from the vaccine.

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Rising vaccine sales joined better results across the company’s portfolio of drugs to boost Pfizer’s revenue overall. Total revenue for the first quarter came in at $14.58 billion, climbing 45% year over year. Stripped of one-time items, Pfizer’s adjusted profit in the quarter was 93 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been forecasting an adjusted profit of 78 cents a share on sales of $13.62 billion.

Apart from the company’s success with its Covid-19 vaccine — a two-dose shot that it developed with BioNTech SE — sales also rose in Pfizer’s divisions for oncology, internal medicine and hospital products, along with sales of other drugs in its portfolio. Sales for Eliquis, an anticoagulant, rose 25% operationally year over year, while Vyndaqel, used to treat heart failure, saw revenue improve 88% operationally year over year.

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In the case of some other Pfizer drugs, the effects of the pandemic reduced sales. Sales of pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 fell 20%, partially because people were making fewer wellness visits to their doctors. Ibrance revenue declined as economic hardship led more patients to buy the breast-cancer drug through Pfizer’s patient-assistance program.

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Over the past year, Pfizer has pared down its secondary business lines to focus on new-drug development. In November, the company completed a deal to spin off its Upjohn segment, which focused on generic and off-patent drugs.

Shares were up 1.5% in premarket trading Tuesday after closing Monday at $39.83. Year-to-date through Monday, the stock is up 8.2%.

In the five months since the Pfizer vaccine became the first Covid-19 shot to get an emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, the vaccine’s rollout has been among the smoothest in the global fight against the pandemic, contributing to the U.S. campaign that has now fully vaccinated more than 40% of American adults.

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More than 160 million doses of the Pfizer shot have been distributed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — greater than the number that the two other companies with approved vaccines, Moderna Inc. and Johnson and Johnson, have put out.

Pfizer is now looking to win approval for its vaccine’s use in younger people.

According to a study released this spring, the company’s vaccine was effective at preventing serious disease caused by Covid-19 in children between the ages of 12 to 15. Pfizer is awaiting decisions from health authorities as to whether its vaccine can be used for that group.

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Pfizer has also begun testing the vaccine in children six months to 12 years old.

Higher vaccine sales boosted Pfizer’s outlook for the full year. The company now expects total revenue of $70.5 billion to $72.5 billion in 2021, with an adjusted profit of $3.55 to $3.65 a share. Pfizer’s previous revenue forecast had guided for sales of $59.4 billion to $61.4 billion, with an adjusted profit of $3.10 to $3.20 a share.

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