Bristol-Myers Tops Estimates on Strong Drug Sales

Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. beat analysts’ earnings estimates on better-than-expected sales of several key medicines led by the cancer therapy Yervoy.

Third-quarter net income rose 4.2 percent to $721 million, or 43 cents a share, from $692 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Profit excluding one-time items of 45 cents a share topped by 3 cents the average of 17 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company has increasingly focused on cancer drugs that use the body’s own immune system, such as Yervoy, approved for malignant melanoma in 2011. Bristol-Myers said Oct. 7 that it wouldn’t seek U.S. approval for its new hepatitis C combination medicine that would have competed with products from Gilead Sciences Inc., Merck & Co. and AbbVie Inc.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $3.9 billion compared with the average estimate of $3.8 billion. Yervoy sales in the quarter increased 47 percent from a year earlier to $350 million and topped analysts’ estimates of $324 million.

Bristol-Myers is considering deals of all size and the company has the financial capacity to approach a “large-sized operation if we find the opportunity worth investigating,” Chief Executive Officer Lamberto Andreotti said today on a conference call to discuss earnings.

Targeted Deals

The company is eyeing products under development in “areas that are significant and key to us,” he said, adding Bristol-Myers expects to announce small-sized deals in the future.

Bristol-Myers had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $11.5 billion, with a net cash position of $3.9 billion as of Sept. 30, the company said in its statement.

The company’s shares rose 2.2 percent to $53.63 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 8.6 percent in the past 12 months.

Sales of the rheumatoid arthritis treatment Orencia gained 18 percent to $444 million, the leukemia therapy Sprycel increased 22 percent to $385 million and Eliquis, a cardiovascular drug, sold $216 million.

“Eliquis sales continue to do very, very well,” said Damien Conover, an analyst at Morningstar Inc., adding the drug is “well positioned for an increasing launch trajectory after a slow initial start.”

The company’s melanoma therapy Opdivo received breakthrough designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September, meaning it will receive a faster review than typical, following the approval of Merck’s Keytruda.

Bristol-Myers is in a race with Merck, Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG, who are working on similar treatments in an emerging class of cancer drugs with the potential to be applied to multiple forms of the disease.

The drugs are expensive -- Keytruda will cost about $12,500 a month for the average U.S. patient and is expected to generate $1.8 billion of sales in 2017, according to the average of eight analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE