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Pfizer Beats Q1 Earnings Forecast, Maintains 2020 Profit Guidance on Biopharma Strength

Pfizer said its Biopharma division helped drive a solid first quarter, and vowed to leave 'no stone unturned' as it explores potential coronavirus treatments.

Pfizer Inc.  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Tuesday, and maintained its full-year profit guidance, as key branded drugs drove solid gains for its biopharma division.

Pfizer said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at 80 cents per share, down 5 cents from the same period last year but 7 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, Pfizer said, fell 8.3% to $12.03 billion but again beat analysts' estimates of an $11.89 billion tally.

Pfizer also confirmed its 2020 financial guidance, which sees revenues in the region of $40.7 billion to $42.3 billion, and adjusted earnings in the range of $2.25 to $2.35 per share. 

“We are fully committed to confronting the public health challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by collaborating with industry partners and academic institutions to develop potential approaches to prevent and treat COVID-19," said CEO Albert Bourla. "Our researchers and scientists also have been exploring potential new uses of existing medicines in Pfizer’s portfolio to help infected patients. We aim to leave no stone unturned as we explore every option to help provide society with a treatment or vaccine."

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"Our strong performance in the first quarter highlights the resiliency of our business even during the most challenging times," he added. "The Biopharma business grew 12% operationally, driven by strong performances from many key brands."

"Upjohn faced two expected headwinds this quarter -- generic competition for Lyrica in the U.S. and the nationwide expansion of the VBP program in China -- while continuing to progress toward a successful close of our transaction with Mylan, now expected in the second half of 2020," Bourla said.  

 Pfizer shares were marked 0.4% lower in early trading immediately following the earnings release at $38.10 each, a move that would tip the stock into a modest year-to-date decline.

Pfizer also said revenues from Upjohn, its wholly-owned business that will be combined with Mylan, fell 37% to $2.002 billion, while biopharma revenues rose 11% to $10.007 billion, driven mostly by a strength in the group's Ibrance breast cancer treatment and its Xeljanz drug used by patients with rheumatoid arthritis.