Pfizer boosts annual profit guidance on expected $15 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales

Headline results for the fourth quarter:

  • Revenue: $11.7 billion (forecasts of $11.5 billion), up 12%
  • Profit: $594 million, versus a loss of $337 million

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

What the company said:

"I am very pleased with how our company performed in 2020, and particularly in the fourth quarter, where we achieved double digit operational revenue growth driven by a wide range of products and geographies, including growth within all of our therapeutic areas," remarked chief financial officer Frank D'Amelio.

Other results:

  • Oncology product sales: $3 billion, up 23%
    • Ibrance: $1.4 billion, up 12%, mainly due to "strong" CDK class penetration and continued leadership in metastatic breast cancer
    • Xtandi alliance revenue: $283 million, up 16%, driven by continued "strong" demand in the metastatic and non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer indications, as well as the metastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer indication
    • Inlyta: $228 million, up 42%, primarily reflecting increased demand in the US and Europe
  • Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13: $1.8 billion, up 11%, boosted by increased adult uptake in certain European markets
  • Eliquis alliance revenue and direct sales: $1.3 billion, up 15%, led by growth in emerging markets, Europe and the US as a result of increased adoption in non-valvular atrial fibrillation
  • Xeljanz: $696 million, up 15%, with growth coming from continued uptake in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis
  • Vyndaqel/Vyndamax: $429 million, versus $213 million in the prior year, driven by the "strong" performance in the transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM) indication in the US, Japan and the EU
  • Enbrel (outside the US and Canada): $345 million, down 17%, primarily reflecting continued biosimilar competition in most European markets, as well as in Brazil and Japan.
  • Chantix/Champix: $191 million, down 32%, hit by the loss of patent protection in the US in November last year
  • Total biosimilars: $525 million, up 88%, led by the recent oncology biosimilar launches of Ruxience (rituximab), Zirabev (bevacizumab) and Trazimera (trastuzumab) in the US, as well as continued growth from Retacrit (epoetin)
  • Full-year overall revenue: $41.9 billion, up 2%
  • Full-year profit: $9.6 billion, down 41%

Looking ahead:

Pfizer said it now expects full-year earnings per share this year to be between $3.10 and $3.20, with both ends of the guidance lifted by $0.10 from a prior estimate. Meanwhile, annual sales are seen in the range of $59.4 billion to $61.4 billion, with the COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 forecast to generate revenue of approximately $15 billion this year.

The company explained that the estimate for BNT162b2, which recorded sales of $154 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, "primarily includes doses that are expected to be delivered in 2021 under existing contracts," although this may rise as additional contracts are signed. The vaccine, which was developed by BioNTech and is priced at around $19 a dose, has been authorised for emergency use in a number of markets, including the UK, Canada, the US and the EU.

Pfizer noted that as of January 31, the company has supplied 65 million doses of BNT162b2 globally, while it still expects to be able to supply up to 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

Pipeline updates:

Pfizer disclosed an analysis showing that its end-to-end clinical success rate has improved from 5% as of the end of 2015, to 21% as of the end of last year. The company said the figure is "beyond" the industry average, which it suggested was 8% through 2019.

The drugmaker also indicated that during the fourth quarter, it completed a Phase II trial of Bavencio (avelumab) in first-line Merkel cell carcinoma, and stopped early-stage work on the anti-PD-L1 drug in combination with Talzenna (talazoparib) and binimetinib for solid tumours. Pfizer also halted Phase I development of the TYK2 inhibitor PF-06826647 in ulcerative colitis.

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