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Pfizer Tops Q1 Earnings Forecast on Covid Vaccine Sales, Cuts 2022 Profit Outlook

"We continue to supply the world with Comirnaty and we are on track to fulfill our commitment to deliver at least 2 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries," said CEO Albert Bourla.

Updated at 9:42 am EST

Pfizer Inc.  (PFE)  posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Tuesday, thanks to surging vaccine sales and a robust near-term outlook, but cut its full-year profit forecast amid changes in the way drugmakers account for milestone payments and acquisitions.   

Pfizer said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at $1.62 per share, a 74.2% increase from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.47 per share. Group revenues, Pfizer said, surged 76% to $25.66 billion, a figure that came in well ahead analysts' estimates of an $23.95 billion tally. Around $13.2 billion of Pfizer's total revenue came from sales of its Comirnaty vaccine. 

Looking into the 2022 financial year Pfizer said its sees adjusted earnings in the region of $3.25 top $6.45 per share, down from its prior estimate of $$6.35 to $6.65 per share, but held onto its forecast for revenues of between $98 billion and $102 billion.

Pfizer also reiterated forecasts for sales of its Comirnaty vaccine, which are expected to top $32 billion.

"We continue to supply the world with Comirnaty, which remains a critical tool for helping patients and societies avoid the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are on track to fulfill our commitment to deliver at least 2 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries in 2021 and 2022, including at least 1 billion doses this year," said CEO Albert Bourla. 

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"In addition, we are delivering on our production commitments for Paxlovid, which is already having a profound impact on the lives of patients. In response to the devastating war in Ukraine, and as a company that is dedicated to promoting human health, we have chosen to continue to supply the people of Russia with the medications they need, and are donating all profits from our Russian subsidiary to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine," he added. "We will continue to do all we can to support the health of all people, which is in line with our purpose: Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”  

Pfizer shares were marked 0.3% lower in early trading following the earnings release to change hands at $48.20 each.

The group also repeated sales forecasts for its recently-approved Covid pill Paxlovid, which are seen coming in at $22 billion, despite disappointing late-stage data from a trial involving 3,000 adults with 'household contacts' that were infected by Covid failed to meet its primary endpoint of reducing the overall risk of infection.

Patients that took a five-day course of Paxloivd were 32% less likely to be infected, Pfizer said, while those taking a ten-day course were 37% less likely.

However, neither tally was 'statistically significant", the company said Monday. 

Late last year, Pfizer said it will sell around 10 million of its Paxlovid treatment, which won Emergency Use Approval (EUA) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on December 22, to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

At $530 per tablet, the cost is around 25% cheaper than the $700 price agreed with Merck & Co. MRK in October to buy 1.7 million doses its 'molnupiravir' treatment of "mild-to-moderate Covid in adults who are at risk for progressing to severe forms of disease, or hospitalization.