Pfizer rides Paxlovid sales to better-than-expected quarter

Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment helped the pharmaceutical giant balance tumbling international sales for its coronavirus vaccine and top third-quarter expectations.

The pill treatment Paxlovid brought in $7.5 billion in sales in the quarter and has generated more than $17 billion so far this year.

Sales from the vaccine Comirnaty, meanwhile, tumbled 66% to $4.4 billion in the quarter. That was mainly due to changes in a European Commission supply agreement that pushed dose deliveries into the fourth quarter. Sales also were hurt by slow demand in emerging markets.

But vaccine sales jumped in the United States after regulators approved a new booster dose and expanded access to children as young as 6 months old. Pfizer books the vast majority of revenue from Comirnaty and splits profit, as well as the cost to make and distribute the vaccine, with German development partner BioNTech.

Pfizer’s top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment generated more than half the company’s revenue in third quarter. Sales for both are expected to trail off in the coming years but still amount to billions of dollars annually.

Pfizer also faces the expiration in the next several years of patents protecting key products from cheaper generic competition. Those include the breast cancer drug Ibrance and Eliquis, for preventing blood clots and strokes.

Company leaders emphasized during a Tuesday call with analysts that they are making progress addressing those future revenue challenges through a combination of acquisitions and drug development.

Pfizer also said Tuesday that a large international study found vaccinating moms-to-be was nearly 82% effective at preventing severe cases of RSV, the common but scary respiratory virus, in their babies’ most vulnerable first 90 days of life.

Pfizer executives said Tuesday that vaccine could hit the market late next year, depending on regulatory approvals, and could become another multi-billion dollar sales generator.

Overall, Pfizer’s profit jumped 6% to $8.61 billion in the third quarter, and adjusted earnings totaled $1.78 per share.

That easily topped analyst expectations of $1.39, according to a survey by FactSet.

Revenue slid 6% to $22.64 billion as the strong dollar dented international sales, but Pfizer’s top line also beat Wall Street projections, which were for $21.07 billion in sales.

Pfizer Inc., based in New York, also raised and narrowed its 2022 earnings forecast. It now expects adjusted earnings to range between $6.40 and $6.50 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $6.40 per share.

Company shares jumped more than 2%, or $1.09, to $47.64 in late-morning trading while broader indexes slipped.

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