By TOM MURPHY
AP Health Writer
COVID-19 vaccine and treatment sales helped Pfizer breeze past Wall Street’s first-quarter expectations, as the drugmaker’s profit grew 61%.
The coronavirus vaccine Comirnaty brought in more than $13 billion in sales in the quarter, and the company is still trying to expand the market for the preventive shots.
Pfizer leaders said Tuesday they expect to submit to regulators by early June data on the effectiveness of a smaller, three-shot combination of their vaccine in children under age 5.
Currently, only children ages 5 or older can be vaccinated in the U.S. with Pfizer’s vaccine.
The pill treatment Paxlovid, which launched late last year, added another $1.5 billion in the first quarter.
All that helped company revenue swell 77%, compared to last year’s quarter, when vaccine sales were still ramping up.
Overall, Pfizer on Tuesday posted net income of $7.86 billion and adjusted earnings of $1.62 per share in the first quarter.
That easily topped the $1.49 per share projected by industry analysts, according to a survey by FactSet.
Revenue was $25.66 billion, also beating Wall Street expectations for $24.1 billion.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine launched in late 2020 and became the drugmaker’s top selling product by last year’s second quarter.
Pfizer books the vast majority of revenue from Comirnaty and splits profit, as well as the cost to make and distribute the vaccine, with development partner BioNTech.
Sales of that vaccine topped analyst expectations for the quarter, but revenue from Paxlovid fell short.
Pfizer said it still expects Comirnaty to bring in about $32 billion in sales this year, with Paxlovid recording around $22 billion.
President Joe Biden’s administration is pushing to expand access to Paxlovid, and sales are expected to pick up later this year.
“We are seeing strong sings for increasing demand for Paxlovid,” Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla told analysts Tuesday.
He added that Pfizer booked only a small portion of revenue in the first quarter from the roughly 6 million doses it has shipped so far. He noted that international sales will be booked in the second quarter.
Revenue from both products will likely wind up exceeding forecasts, Mizuho Securities USA analyst Dr. Vamil Divan said in a research note. He noted that current projections only include contracts the company signed as of mid April.
Pfizer Inc., based in New York, also revised the 2022 earnings forecast it debuted in February to reflect an accounting policy change. It now expects adjusted earnings of $6.25 to $6.45 per share.
That’s down a dime on both ends of the range from its previous forecast for $6.35 to $6.55 per share.
Analysts forecast earnings of $7.14 per share.
Shares climbed 2% to $49.40 in midday trading Tuesday, while broader indexes rose slightly.
Pfizer’s stock hit an all-time high price of $61.71 on Dec. 20. But that price has fallen 18% so far this year, a steeper drop than the roughly 13% decline of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.
Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter at @thpmurphy
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