Pfizer Tops Analysts with Q3 Profits, Narrows 2013 Guidance

Andrew Klips  |

Cost-cutting efforts and a rise in cancer drug sales helped Pfizer, Inc. (PFE) , the biggest drugmaker in the United States, beat analysts’ views on third-quarter profits, although global pharmaceutical sales suffered a setback.

For the quarter, Pfizer reported revenue of $12.64 billion, down 2 percent from $12.95 billion in the year prior quarter.  Net profits were $2.59 million, or 39 cents per share, down from $3.21 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2012.  Excluding special items, such as restructuring and acquisition costs, Pfizer reported adjusted earnings of $3.86 billion, or 58 cents per share, versus $3.75 billion, or 50 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Wall Street was expecting adjusted earnings of 56 cents per share on revenue of $12.7 billion.

Sales of blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor fell by 29 percent compared to Q3 2012 to $533 million.  Lipitor sales, which are down nearly 50 percent in 2013 at $1.7 billion, have been on the decline since generics hit the market in 2011 when the cholesterol-buster lost patent protection.  Some other notables with declining sales were Viagra (-11% to $460 million), Genotropin (-14% to $183 million), Detrol/Detrol LA (-26% to $131 million), Zoloft (-10% to $116 million) and Effexor (-10% to $96 million).

On the plus side, sales of fibromyalgia drug Lyrica jumped 10 percent to $1.14 billion.  Sales of Enbrel, a drug for psoriasis, rose 6 percent to $932 million, while revenue from arthritis drug Celebrex improved by 11 percent to $752 million.  Sales of pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar, Pfizer’s second-best selling drug, increased 3 percent to $959 million.

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Sales of Pfizer’s cancer drugs increased by 24 percent to $407 million.  In addition to other drugs maneuvering down the regulatory pathway, the company is readying to begin a pivotal trial for its biosimilar of Roche’s (RHHBY) Herceptin, the world’s best selling drug for metastatic breast cancer.

“Overall, I am very pleased with our continued and steady progress, on many fronts, to drive greater value for our shareholders,” said Ian Read, chairman and chief executive at Pfizer in a statement today.  “We continue to generate solid financial results on an operational basis, despite the impact of product losses of exclusivity and the ongoing expiration of the Spiriva collaboration in certain countries as well as the challenging operating environment.  Over the next several months, we expect to report key clinical data read-outs that will more clearly characterize the strength of our late-stage pipeline,” he added.

Pfizer has been making changes to build profits after being hit hard by the patent cliff.  In 2012, it sold its nutrition unit to Nestle SA ($NSRGY) for $11.9 billion.  This year, it has spun-out its animal health operations as Zoetis Inc. (ZTS) and unveiled a plant to split its commercial business into three units, which has investors wondering if it will sell part of the company.  The revamp is slated to happen at the start of 2014.

Pfizer also modified its full-year outlook, cutting the top end of its revenue forecast by $1 billion to a range of $50.8 billion to $51.8 billion.  Adjusted profits were tightened to between $2.15 and $2.20 per share, from a prior guidance of $2.10 to $2.20 per share.

Shares of PFE are trading lower on minimal volume in pre-market action on Tuesday, fading by 1 percent to $30.38 from Monday’s closing price of $30.74.  So far in 2013, shares were ahead 25 percent through Monday.

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