Cancer Drug Growth Stabilizes Pfizer's Q3 Results

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It was a mixed quarter for the largest researched-based pharmaceutical company in the world, Pfizer , which relied on growth from relatively new drugs and a few select blockbuster treatments to help offset patent expirations throughout the rest of the world.

For the quarter, Pfizer reported a 2% revenue decline to $12.64 billion as reported net income slid 19% to $2.59 billion. Adjusted net income, however, due to a 40-basis-point lowering in Pfizer's effective tax rate, jumped to $0.58 (a 16% increase from last year), slightly topping Wall Street's expectations by $0.02.

The primary growth driver for Pfizer were its oncology products, which delivered 24% total sales growth with non-small cell lung cancer treatment Xalkori seeing sales rise 92% and advanced kidney cancer drug Inlyta adding 186% sales growth.

Select established drugs also played a key role in trying to fend off the negative effect of generics on Pfizer's top line, including its lead drug in terms of sales, Lyrica, which is designed to treat nerve pain, and Celebrex which treats pain caused by arthritis. Sales of Lyrica rose 10% to $1.14 billion while Celebrex's revenue rose by 11% to $752 million.

The big drag this quarter continued to be patent expirations, including previous blockbuster Lipitor, whose sales fell 29% to $533 million, as well as Xalatan, which delivered a 23% sales decline, and Viagra, which shed 11% in sales due to patents expiring outside the U.S.

Looking ahead, Pfizer highlighted numerous pipeline developments for investors to keep their eyes on, including the highly touted HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer drug palbociclib, which has $5 billion-plus sales potential and recently began enrolling a phase 3 trial.

For the full year, Pfizer modified its previous guidance by boosting the low end of its adjusted EPS range to a new forecast of $2.15-$2.20, from $2.10-$2.20, however, it also lowered the high end of its adjusted revenue to a new projection of $50.8 billion to $51.8 billion, from $50.8 billion to $52.8 billion. 


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