Lilly's fourth-quarter revenue jumps 22%, boosted by COVID-19 antibody sales

Headline results for the fourth quarter:

  • Revenue: $7.4 billion (forecasts of $7.3 billion), up 22%
  • Profit: $2.1 billion, up 42%

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"We finished the year with strong momentum in our core business areas, as volume-based revenue growth for our newest medicines and initial sales of our COVID-19 antibody therapy, coupled with our ongoing productivity agenda, drove robust margin expansion and solid earnings growth," remarked CEO David Ricks.

Eli Lilly noted that key growth products launched since 2014 contributed nearly 12 percentage points of revenue growth, representing approximately 48% of total sales in the fourth quarter, or 55% of total sales, excluding revenues of its COVID-19 antibody therapy bamlanivimab, which was authorised for emergency use in the US last November.

Other results:

  • US revenue: $4.6 billion, up 31%
  • Non-US revenue: $2.8 billion, up 10%
  • Key growth products launched since 2014:
    • Trulicity: $1.5 billion, up 24%, beating estimates of $1.4 billion, with US revenue up 23% to $1.2 billion driven by increased demand, while sales out the country gained 28% at $339.7 million on higher volumes
    • Taltz: $495.3 million, up 18%, with sales increasing 9% in the US, and 46% outside the country
    • Jardiance: $313.6 million, up 17%, including 32% higher revenues outside the US on higher volumes
    • Cyramza: $284.2 million, up 16%
    • Basaglar: $282.1 million, down 8%, reflecting a 16% drop in US sales due to lower realised prices, while revenues gained 23% outside the country thanks to higher volumes
    • Verzenio: $281.6 million, up 57%
    • Olumiant: $192.2 million, up 50%, with revenue outside the US gaining 46% to $167.4 million mainly due to increased volumes
    • Emgality: $109.9 million, up 66%
  • Bamlanivimab: $871.2 million, with Mizuho analysts having projected sales of $813 million, and while the bulk of the antibody's sales were in the US, there was some contribution from Canada
  • Humalog: $718.1 million, down 6%, with US sales declining 11% to $415.2 million driven by lower realised prices
  • Alimta: $652.7 million, up 23%, surpassing analyst estimates of $560 million, lifted by a 48% boost in sales outside the US, primarily driven by increased volume in Germany
  • Humulin: $324.4 million, down 7%, hit by lower realised prices and decreased volumes
  • Forteo: $254.4 million, down 29%
  • Full-year revenue: $24.5 billion, up 10%
  • Full-year profit: $6.2 billion, down 26%

Looking ahead:

Eli Lilly said its revenue forecast for 2021 remains unchanged at between $26.5 billion and $28 billion, as is the company's earnings outlook, at $7.75 to $8.40 per share.

The company also recently reached a deal for another 500,000 doses of bamlanivimab with the US as part of a $625-million change to an existing army contract, which brings the total US government commitment to 1.45 million doses. Many other countries are also adopting bamlanivimab, according to Ricks. "We didn't get into this to drive earnings or anything. We did say there'll be a modest return to shareholders, but mostly we did this to help the world conquer this horrible pandemic," the CEO added.

What analysts said:

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen suggested that Eli Lilly's margin profile "represents one of the strongest expansion stories in pharma, with the potential for mid-teens [earnings per share] growth."

Pipeline update:

Analysts on the earnings call also questioned Eli Lilly about its experimental Alzheimer's disease drug donanemab, including about how quickly it could file for approval and what kinds of financial expectations were reasonable. Company executives declined to comment about discussions with regulators or analyst forecasts. The company is set to present full results from the Phase II TRAILBLAZER-ALZ study of donanemab in mid-March at a scientific conference.

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