Biogen's Sales Bolstered by Avonex

The company's revenue and earnings top estimates.
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Updated from 4:33 p.m. EST

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

said fourth-quarter revenue rose 8% and surpassed Wall Street's estimates as sales of key drugs Avonex and Rituxan advanced.

The Cambridge, Mass., biotech company earned $55.6 million, or 16 cents a share, up from $28.7 million and 8 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Excluding certain costs, Biogen had an adjusted profit of 48 cents a share.

Total revenue for the fourth quarter rose to $632.9 million from $587.8 million in the previous year, Biogen said Wednesday. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been expecting a profit of 47 cents and a top line of $626.4 million.

Biogen said sales of the multiple sclerosis treatment Avonex were up 12% to $413 million. Rituxan, a lymphoma drug, saw revenue rise 6% to $182 million. Biogen and

Genentech

(DNA)

copromote Rituxan in the U.S. All domestic sales of Rituxan are recognized by Genentech, and Biogen records its share of the pretax copromotion profits on a quarterly basis.

For 2006, Biogen is forecasting earnings, excluding the effect of stock-option expensing, of $1.95 to $2.10 a share. The company said it will probably record 6 cents to 9 cents a share for option expensing this year. The company anticipates that 2006 capital spending will be $190 million to $275 million.

Analysts are calling for Biogen to earn $2 a share and have revenue of $2.63 billion this year.

Separately, Biogen said it and marketing partner

Elan

(ELN)

got the news they've been longing to hear. The Food and Drug Administration informed the companies that they can resume a clinical trial with Tysabri, the multiple sclerosis drug that was pulled from the market last year after being linked to a potentially fatal brain disease.

Three patients had developed the disease, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. After conducting safety evaluations with the help of MS and PML experts on 3,000 patients who received the drug, no additional cases of the disease were found.

Clinical trial on the safety of Tysabri as a standalone therapy are expected to begin in the U.S. and internationally in the coming weeks. Patients who previously participated in the phase III MS program are eligible for the trial.

After submitting an application for FDA approval of Tysabri in September, the drug was given priority review status, which is granted for products that address an unmet medical need and could be a substantial advancement from treatments already on the market.

An FDA advisory committee will review Tysabri on March 7-8, a session that will include time for patients to offer their thoughts on the drug. Biogen and Elan anticipate a decision from the agency by late March. Biogen said on a conference call that it expects trading of its stock to be halted during the meeting.

Shares of Biogen ticked up 2 cents to $45.74 in after-hours trading Wednesday. The stock rose $1.34, or 3%, to $45.72 in the regular session.