Pfizer ups outlook again as COVID-19 vaccine sales forecast to hit $33.5 billion this year

Headline results for the second quarter:

  • Revenue: $19 billion (forecasts of $18.7 billion), up 92%
  • Profit: $5.6 billion, up 59%

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

What the company said:

CEO Albert Bourla called the second quarter "remarkable" with Pfizer and partner BioNTech delivering more than one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 globally. "In addition, we are equally proud of the second-quarter performance of our business excluding BNT162b2, which posted 10% operational revenue growth," Bourla added.

Other results:

  • Vaccine sales: $9.2 billion, up from $1.2 billion in the prior year  
    • BNT162b2: $7.8 billion (forecasts of $7.1 billion), up from $3.5 billion in the first quarter 
    • Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13: $1.2 billion, up 11%, benefiting from higher levels of healthcare activity compared to the prior-year quarter, which was heavily impacted by COVID-19-related restrictions 
  • Oncology product sales: $3.1 billion, up 19%  
    • Ibrance: $1.4 billion, up 4%, as delays in diagnosis and treatment initiations caused by COVID-19 show signs of recovery
    • Xtandi alliance revenue: $303 million, up 14%, with "strong demand" across the metastatic and non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer indications and the metastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer indication
    • Inlyta: $257 million, up 32%, primarily reflecting increased adoption in the US and Europe
  • Eliquis alliance revenue and direct sales: $1.5 billion, up 16%, led by growth in the US and emerging markets
  • Xeljanz: $586 million, down 8%, reflecting an "unfavourable change" in channel mix toward lower-priced channels, as well as a delay in new patients starts due to an ongoing FDA review into the safety of JAK inhibitors
  • Vyndaqel/Vyndamax: $501 million, up 81%, mainly due to "strong uptake" of the transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy indication in the US, EU and Japan
  • Enbrel (outside the US and Canada): $286 million, down 15%, hit by biosimilar competition in Europe and Japan
  • Chantix/Champix: $184 million, down 22%
  • Total biosimilars: $559 million, up 93%, boosted by recent launches of Zirabev (bevacizumab), Ruxience (rituximab) and Trazimera (trastuzumab)

Looking ahead:

Pfizer now expects revenue this year of between $78 billion and $80 billion, lifted from an earlier range of $70.5 billion to $72.5 billion. The company noted that the increase mainly reflects higher sales of BNT162b2, which are forecast to reach approximately $33.5 billion in 2021, with 2.1 billion doses to be delivered under contracts signed as of mid-July. At its last earnings call in May, Pfizer estimated the vaccine would bring in sales of $26 billion this year. Meanwhile, earnings per share are now forecast to be between $3.95 and $4.05, with both ends of the range lifted by $0.40 from a prior prediction.

For further analysis, read ViewPoints: Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine sales set to reach around $45 billion in 2021.

What analysts said:

"The guidance raise being even better than we and consensus had expected just underscores our confidence," remarked Sam Fazeli of Bloomberg Industries.

Pipeline updates:

Pfizer disclosed that in a Phase IIa study, its bivalent protein-based vaccine candidate RSVpreF showed 100% efficacy against mild-to-moderate symptomatic infection resulting from respiratory syncytial virus in healthy adults 18 to 50 years of age. The company noted that no vaccine-related serious adverse events were observed. Pfizer said that it plans to initiate a global Phase III trial in adults in September, which could complete as early as the first quarter of 2022.

The drugmaker has also discontinued Phase II development of the ketohexokinase inhibitor PF-06835919 in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis with liver fibrosis, as well as a mid-stage study of the PARP inhibitor Talzenna (talazoparib) in germline BRCA-mutated locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer. Further, in oncology, Pfizer ended Phase I development of the HER2 antibody-drug conjugate PF-06804103, the therapeutic vaccine PF-06936308 and the CD137 agonist PF-05082566 in combination with Gilead Sciences' Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel).

To read more Top Story articles, click here.