Gilead Raises Sales Guidance, Talks Up Strong HIV Drug Launch

FOSTER CITY, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Gilead Sciences ( GILD) raised product sales guidance for the rest of the year and said demand was high for a new HIV medicine launched just two months ago. Earnings in the third quarter also topped Wall Street expectations.

Shares of Gilead rose 3%to $66.75 in Tuesday after-hours trading after closing the regular session down 2% to $64.91.

Net product sales guidance for the remainder of 2012 was raised to a range of $9.1 billion to $9.2 billion from the previous forecast of $8.8-$9 billion. The new guidance, however, brackets current Street consensus of $9.1 billion.

Gilead's product sales guidance encompasses all the drugs sold by the company but excludes other revenue. The company does not provide earnings guidance but current consensus is pegged at $3.79 per share.

Sales of Stribild, Gilead's new four medicine-in-one HIV pill, totaled $17.5 million in the third quarter, in-line with consensus. Launched in late August, Gilead executives said the bulk of early Stribild sales went to fill wholesaler inventory but that demand for the drug was being seen in patients new to HIV therapy as well as from some patients seeking to switch off of protease inhibitor-containing HIV regimens.

Wall Street is paying close attention to Stribild because the new medicine could help Gilead maintain its dominant market share in HIV and staunch slowing growth as the company's older drugs lose patent protection and face generic competition.

On the hepatitis C front, Gilead confirmed that sustained virologic response (SVR) or "cure rate" data from a phase II study of its GS-7977/GS-5885 plus ribavirin all-oral regimen in genotype 1 patients will be presented at the upcoming AASLD Liver Meeting in November.

Investors are keen to compare the results from this study to Abbott's ( ABT) competing Hep C all-oral regimen that has demonstrated cure rates of between 96% and 99%.

On Tuesday's conference call, Gilead, alluding to the Abbott data indirectly, acknowledged that the SVR rates from its all-oral combination "needs to be very high these days." But Gilead also stressed that other parameters besides high cure rates, including convenience and tolerability, will also play a role in which therapies become widely used.

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