Biopharmaceutical stock Gilead ( GILD), last week deemed the mostly likely to beat estimates among its biotech peers this quarter by Bear Stearns analyst Mark Schoenebaum, will air its earnings after the closing bell Wednesday. Earlier this month, IMS prescription sales data refreshed expectations for the company's quarterly and annual results. Credit Suisse analyst Michael Aberman upgraded the stock to outperform from neutral, raising the price target to $54 from $45 after factoring in better-than-predicted sales of HIV drug Atripla, which the company is set to launch in Europe this quarter. Atripla contributed $241 million to third-quarter HIV product sales, and about one-fourth of HIV patients in the U.S. were on Atripla therapy within a year of its launch, according to a Rodman & Renshaw report. For the fourth quarter, the consensus is pegging worldwide sales of $272 million from Atripla, $415 million from Truvada, $148 million from Viread and $16 million from pulmonary arterial hypertension drug Letairis. Analysts are looking for profit of 40 cents a share (44 cents a share on an adjusted basis), on revenue of about $1.087 billion for the quarter, with total HIV product sales of $845 million. For the year, the Street expects $1.66 a share, on revenue of $4.22 billion. And for 2008, analysts are predicting $1.88 a share on overall revenue of $5.03 billion, ahead of guidance tomorrow. Separate from upcoming earnings, Gilead said Monday that its CFO Caroline Dorsa has quit after a short spell at the company to pursue another opportunity. Chief Operating Officer John Milligan will take over as CFO until a replacement for Dorsa is named. " ... We don't read anything into the departure of CFO Caroline Dorsa after only
about 3 months as the move apparently was more for personal reasons and a potential return to her previous employer (Merck)," wrote JP Morgan analyst Geoffrey Meacham in a note to investors. Gilead shares closed down $1.96, or 4.3%, at $44.21 on Tuesday.