Bristol-Myers Raises Forecast as Sales and Profit Top Estimates

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. reported second-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates and raised its full-year forecast, a signal that its bet on cancer drugs powered by the immune system is paying off.

Profit excluding one-time items was 53 cents a share, the New York-based company said in a statement. That beat analysts’ average estimate of 36 cents. Revenue rose 7 percent to $4.16 billion, above estimates of $3.71 billion.

The drugmaker has turned its focus to cancer, where it’s among the leaders in a race to develop new treatments that pit the body’s immune system against malignancies. Opdivo, its biggest prospect, already is approved for lung and skin cancer. The company said Monday that it stopped a clinical trial of Opdivo six months early after the therapy kept kidney-cancer patients alive longer than those taking a standard treatment.

Sales of Opdivo are projected to reach $6.2 billion by 2020, or more than one-quarter of the company’s total revenue, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The drugmaker raised its 2015 forecast, predicting profit will be $1.70 to $1.80 a share, up from previous guidance of $1.60 to $1.70.

R&D Charge

The company reported a research and development charge of $800 million, or 48 cents a share, from its first-quarter acquisition of Flexus Biosciences Inc. That pushed up second-quarter expenses by 31 percent, leading to a net loss attributable to Bristol-Myers of $130 million, or 8 cents a share. That compares with net income of $333 million, or 20 cents, a year earlier.

Bristol-Myers shares have gained 41 percent in the past year. They rose less than 1 percent to $69.37 in New York trading on Wednesday.

The company said two final-stage trials of Yervoy, for prostate and lung cancers, were discontinued after failing to meet their primary goals. This comes as the Japanese Health Ministry approved the drug for first- and second-line melanoma treatment.

In April, the company stopped receiving royalty payments for Abilify, one of its top products, which now faces cheaper generic copies. Sales of the anti-psychotic plunged 81 percent to $107 million in the second quarter. It had generated $555 million in worldwide sales a year earlier.

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