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Shares of Biogen (BIIB) - Get Biogen Inc. Report  were rallying more than 2.5% Thursday afternoon even though the biotech giant announced that it expects no revenue growth in 2017 compared to last year, at best. On the low end of its guidance, Biogen's revenue could fall almost 3%.

That's a disappointing forecast relative to investor expectations calling for low-single-digit growth, but there's an important caveat. Biogen is spinning out its hemophilia drug business into a separate company in February, which isn't necessarily reflected in the consensus estimates for 2017.

Adjust for the lost hemophilia revenue and Biogen's revenue guidance for 2017 -- $11.1 to $11.4 billion -- is more in line with the current consensus estimate of $12.1 billion.

Biogen reported $11.4 billion in 2016 revenue.

On a non-GAAP basis, Biogen forecast 2017 earnings in the range of $20.45 to $21.25 per share. This brackets current consensus.

However you adjust Biogen's revenue guidance for this year, it still underscores slowing growth in the multiple sclerosis drug franchise from increased competition and pricing pressure.

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Sales of Tecfidera, Biogen's most important multiple sclerosis drug, fell to $1 billion in the fourth quarter from $1.03 billion in the third quarter. For 2016, Tecfidera sales grew 9% to $3.96 billion, assisted by price increases.

For 2017 to work, Biogen needs a successful commercial launch of Spinraza, the newly approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a rare and fatal inherited neurodegenerative disease diagnosed in infants and small children. Spinraza was developed by Biogen's partner Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS) - Get Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report , which received royalties on sales.

Investors expect Spinraza sales of $141 million in 2017, growing to $1.36 billion in 2021, according to consensus estimates compiled by FactSet.

How fast and how far Biogen can take Spinraza will depend in part on the willingness of insurance companies to reimburse for the expensive therapy, which costs $750,000 for the first year and $375,000 per year after that. Already, Anthem decided to reimburse for Spinraza in only the most severely affected infants diagnosed with SMA, not kids with a milder form of the disease.

Still, Biogen shares were trading at $280.16 at last check, up 2.53% on the day.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.