Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) - Get Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Report shares jumped as much as 4.4% on Thursday as strong sales for its Opdivo and Eliquis products drove first-quarter results that topped analysts' expectations and the company raised its guidance.

Shares of the New York pharmaceutical company traded as high as $56.13, then ended the day at $55.67, up 3.5%.

"We expected a good quarter, but Bristol pulled all the stops to deliver a solid 1Q17," wrote BMO Capital Markets analyst Alex Arfaei in a note.  "The 4% revenue beat was driven by the IO franchise and Eliquis, and the 15% EPS beat vs. consensus was driven by higher revenue, higher other income, and slightly lower tax rate."

First-quarter sales of cancer drug Opdivo were up 60% year-over-year to $1.13 billion. Analysts had forecast $991.9 million, according to FactSet Research Systems.

Sales of blood thinner Eliquis were $1.1 billion, representing a 50% rise from the year-ago period. This marks the first time that Eliquis sales exceeded $1 billion in a single quarter, according to Bristol-Myers Chief Financial Officer Charles Bancroft on the earnings call.

Analysts had estimated sales of $1.019 billion.

Bristol-Myers reported first-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 84 cents on revenue of $4.93 billion. Analysts had forecast adjusted EPS of 73 cents on revenue of $4.75 billion.

TheStreet Recommends

For the full-year 2017, the company raised its GAAP EPS guidance range to $2.72 - $2.87 from  $2.47- $2.67 and its non-GAAP EPS guidance range to $2.85 - $3.00 from $2.70 - $2.90.

The updated guidance is "achievable,"  Arfaei wrote.

However, Arfaei said longer term immuno-oncology concerns remain. "We expect FDA approval of Merck's Keytruda + chemo in 1L NSCLC (first-line non-small cell lung cancer) in May followed by a relatively uneventful ASCO for Bristol," Arfaei wrote, referring to the upcoming gathering of clinical oncologists.  

The American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, which will take place in June, "will likely strengthen our argument that IO will become increasingly fragmented, thus, increasing uncertainty about BMY's IO franchise," he wrote.

Among the topics that came up during Thursday's earnings call was shareholder activism. An analyst asked Bristol-Myers CEO Giovanni Caforio whether there were any changes in the company's strategy in light of activist investor interest in the company and the recent addition to the board of directors.

Caforio said he's happy to have "broadened and strengthened the capabilities on the board." He added that the company's priorities have not changed, adding that Bristol-Myers is focused on "delivering the value of an extraordinarily promising pipeline, which is probably the broadest and the deepest the company has had."

Bristol-Myers on Feb. 21 said it added three new directors to its board and announced a $2 billion fast-tracked share buyback program in the wake of discussions between the drug company and activist investor Jana Partners LLC, which became a Bristol-Myers shareholder in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Also on Feb. 21, the Wall Street Journal reported that activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a stake in Bristol-Myers and and believes it could become a takeover target.