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Pfizer Misses Q4 Earnings Forecast, Sees COVID Vaccine Boost To 2021 Profits

Pfizer said its expects its recently-approved coronavirus vaccine to generate $15 billion in additional sales this year, allowing it to lift its 2021 profit forecast to between $3.10 and $3.20 per share.

Pfizer Inc.  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report posted weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Tuesday, but boosted its 2021 profit forecast thanks in part to expected sales of around $15 billion for its recently approved coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December were pegged at 42 cents per share, up 14% from the same period last year but six cents shy of the Street consensus forecast of 48 cents per share. Group revenues, Pfizer said, rose 12% from last year to $11.68 billion, topping analysts' estimates of an $11.43 billion tally.

Looking into the 2021 financial year, Pfizer said its sees adjusted earnings in the region of $3.10 to $3.20 per share -- a 10 cent improvement from its prior forecast -- on revenues of between $59.4 billion and $61.4 billion. 

“2020 has been a transformational year, not only for Pfizer, but also in the life of every patient in every community that we serve. As a company, we saw the culmination of Pfizer’s decade-long conversion into a pure-play, science and innovation-focused company," said CEO Albert Bourla. "Right away, our ability to move quickly and utilize cutting-edge science to help address the world’s most important medical challenges was put to the test by the COVID-19 pandemic."

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"Our record-breaking success at developing a vaccine against COVID-19, along with our partner BioNTech, is just one example of what we believe this new Pfizer is capable of achieving," he added. "As the world looks forward to 2021 with renewed hope for better days ahead, we also look forward with renewed confidence and resolve in our ability to fulfill our purpose, to deliver breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”  

Pfizer shares were marked 2.7% lower in early trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $34.85 each.

Last month, Pfizer said vowed to boost the manufacturing pace of its coronavirus vaccine with the aim of delivering 2 billion doses by the end of the year.

Pfizer said it will will boost its goal by 700 million doses as it makes changes to both its facilities and processes that will temporarily impact shipments to several non-U.S. countries in January and February from its factory in Puurs, Belgium. But the drugmaker, which manufactures the vaccine with its German partner, BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, said the delays will be offset by what it says will be "significant" increases in available doses in March and beyond. 

Pfizer and BioNTech reached an agreement with the U.S. government in December to bring the pair's total vaccine commitment under the Operation Warp Speed program to 200 million doses, enough to protect just under one third of the total U.S. population, by the end of July.