Biogen Profit Increases on Multiple Sclerosis Drug Sales

Biogen Idec Inc. reported first-quarter earnings climbed and raised its full-year forecast after sales increased of the multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera.

Net income increased 12 percent to $480 million, or $2.02 a share, from $426.8 million, or $1.79, a year earlier, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen said today in a statement. Annual profit may be $11.35 to $11.45 a share, the company said, compared with its January forecast of $11 to $11.20 a share.

Tecfidera, approved by U.S. regulators in March 2013, generated $506 million in the quarter, more than analysts’ average estimate of $446.2 million. Total revenue is now expected to increase 26 to 28 percent this year, the company said, compared with a previous outlook of 22 to 25 percent.

“There already appears to be broad interest” in Europe, Chief Executive Officer George Scangos said on a conference call, based on “encouraging” early signs in Germany.

U.S. sales of the drug were $460 million in the quarter, the company said.

The medicine had captured a market share in the “high teens” by the end of March, Eric Schmidt, a New York-based analyst at Cowen & Co., wrote in a note to clients last week.

Avonex, Tysabri

Biogen decided to raise its annual profit forecast in part because of better-than-anticipated performances of the company’s two other multiple sclerosis drugs, Avonex and Tysabri, Tony Kingsley, executive vice president of global commercial operations, said on the conference call. Avonex, given by injection, generated $761.4 million in the quarter, while infusion treatment Tysabri had $441 million in sales.

Biogen gained less than 1 percent to $306.75 at the close in New York. The shares gained 44 percent in the past 12 months.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were $2.47 a share, missing the $2.55 average of 23 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The results were hurt by 35 cents a share by expenses for a new research and development agreement with Eisai Co., the company said.

“Expenses were dramatically higher than expected in the quarter,” Mark Schoenebaum, a New York-based analyst at ISI Group LLC, said in a note to clients. However, he said, the company raised full-year guidance “which signals that this spending trend will slow.”

Biogen bought right’s to Eisai’s experimental Alzheimer’s disease medicines in March to add to its treatments for brain disorders. Japan’s Eisai will take the lead to develop the drugs and pursue regulatory approvals, while both companies will share development expenses.

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