Genentech ( DNA) leads off the big-name biotech earnings season April 7 with a lot of Wall Street analysts -- and even more oncologists and patients -- focused on the company's new colorectal cancer drug Avastin. Early revenue projections for the drug -- which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 26 -- are promising, prompting some Genentech analysts to predict that Avastin will do better than they had anticipated. "We expect a strong Avastin market launch," said Elise Wang of Citigroup Smith Barney, in an April 4 report. Wang raised her first-quarter sales estimate of the drug to $20 million from $14 million and her full-year sales estimate to $395 million from $356 million. More importantly, Wang, who has a buy rating on Genentech, said the Avastin launch encouraged her to raise her first-quarter EPS estimate by a penny to 32 cents and her full-year EPS by 2 cents to $1.57. The consensus view of analysts polled by Thomson First Call places first-quarter EPS at 32 cents and full-year EPS at $1.54. (Wang doesn't own shares, but her firm says its "does and seeks to do business" with companies covered in its research reports.) If Wang's predictions are correct, that's quite a vote of confidence for a drug that may account for 2% of Genentech's first-quarter sales and less than 10% of its full-year revenue. But Avastin's prospects have generated enough excitement on Wall Street to help the company's stock triple in the last 12 months. The excitement comes not only for Avastin's treatment of advanced colorectal cancer but also for the possible treatment of other cancers. Genentech is continuing research to secure FDA approval for using Avastin to treat other cancers, including breast, lung, kidney and pancreatic forms. Federal law permits doctors to use Avastin for other cancers now, because the FDA already has approved it for treating one disease. That may be one reason why, as Wang noted, analysts' estimates of Avastin's first-quarter sales have been as low as $2 million and as high as $80 million. Analysts, however, doubt these so-called "off-label" uses will produce much revenue this year or next year, because insurers will be reluctant to pay for them.