AbbVie Profit Beats Estimates; Sales of Flagship Humira Soar

Updated on
  • Raises adjusted earnings forecast to $4.73 to $4.83 a share
  • Sales of Imbruvica, Viekira also top analysts’ estimates

Biotechnology drugmaker AbbVie Inc.’s second-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates, driven by better-than-expected sales of its drugs. The company raised its forecast for the year.

Profit excluding one-time items was $1.26 a share, AbbVie said Friday in a statement, topping the $1.20 average of analysts’ projections compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 18 percent to $6.45 billion from a year earlier, better than estimates of $6.2 billion.

The company’s biggest product is the rheumatoid arthritis injection Humira, which accounted for 61 percent of AbbVie revenue in 2015 and soon will face competition in the U.S. from cheaper versions of the complex biotechnology drug, known as biosimilars. Revenue from Humira surged 17 percent to $4.15 billion, topping the average estimate of $3.98 billion.

Chief Executive Officer Rick Gonzalez wouldn’t comment on the patent lawsuits around Humira that will determine when biosimilar competitors will enter the market, saying the company is in the “active” phase of litigation.

AbbVie now forecasts that full-year earnings, excluding one-time items, will be $4.73 to $4.83 per share, according to the statement. In April, the company had forecast $4.62 to $4.82 per share. The raised estimate is due to “strong underlying business performance year-to-date and the expected continued positive trends over the remainder of the year,” AbbVie said in the statement.

Focus on Oncology

To reduce its dependence on Humira, North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie has doubled down on oncology. Last year it acquired Imbruvica, a blood cancer treatment, with its $21 billion purchase of Pharmacyclics Inc. In April, it bought Stemcentrx Inc. for $5.8 billion to gain an asset for lung cancer and build its pipeline of solid tumor treatments.

The company is also contending with increased competition in the hepatitis C field, after drugmaker Merck & Co. launched a rival treatment earlier this year at a lower price than AbbVie’s or Gilead Sciences Inc.’s drugs. Gonzalez said Friday that the company has experienced some loss of market share and pricing pressure as a result of the new competitor.

AbbVie’s shares traded up 2.5 percent to $66.35 at 11:55 a.m. in New York.

More results for the second quarter include:

  • Net income rose to $1.61 billion, or 98 cents a share, from $1.37 billion, or 83 cents, a year earlier.
  • Imbruvica sales rose to $439 million; estimate was $433 million.
  • Viekira Pak sales increased to $419 million; estimate was $407 million.