Pfizer on Tuesday reported first-quarter sales and adjusted earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, despite a decline in sales attributed to lower demand for the company’s Covid vaccine.
Shares of the pharmaceutical giant were largely unchanged on Tuesday. Shares are down more than 23% for the year through Monday’s close, putting the company’s market value at around $221.3 billion.
Here’s what Pfizer reported versus Wall Street expectations, based on a poll of analysts by Refinitiv:
- Earnings per share: Adjusted $1.23 vs. 98 cents expected
- Revenue: $18.28 billion versus $16.59 billion expected
Pfizer posted net income of $5.54 billion, or 97 cents a share. That compares to $7.86 billion, or $1.37 per share, in the first quarter of 2022.
The company reported revenue of $18.28 billion in the first quarter, down 29% from the same period last year.
Sales of the company’s Covid vaccine fell $10 billion, or 75%, from the year-ago quarter. Pfizer said this was mainly due to lower contracted supplies and demand in international markets.
The drop was also due to lower contracted shipments from the US government, Pfizer said, as the country prepares to move Covid products to the commercial market later this year.
Sales of Pfizer’s Covid antiviral pill Paxlovid rose $2.8 billion in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. Pfizer said Paxlovid’s revenue was driven by new launches in certain international markets and strong demand in China due to rising Covid cases.
Sales were also boosted by final deliveries related to a US contract secured in late December.
Paxlovid first made an emergency appearance in the US market in late December 2021. Pfizer hopes to get full Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug this year. Still, the company expects full-year Paxlovid sales to fall 58% compared to 2022.
Excluding sales of Covid products, Pfizer said sales were up 5% in the first quarter from the same period a year ago.
That growth was fueled by products from recently acquired companies, according to Pfizer. These include Biohaven Pharmaceutical’s migraine drug Nurtec ODT and Global Blood Therapeutics’ sickle cell disease treatment Oxbryta, which contributed $167 million and $71 million, respectively.
The company said the surge was also due to strong sales of drugs like sulperazon, an antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections, and blood thinner Eliquis.
The New York-based company maintained its 2023 revenue guidance of $67 billion to $71 billion. Pfizer also reiterated its full-year adjusted earnings guidance of $3.25 to $3.45 per share.
However, Pfizer continues to expect Covid-related sales to decline this year. The company reiterated its forecast of $13.5 billion in 2023 Covid vaccine sales and $8 billion in revenue for Paxlovid.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company expects this year to be a “transition year” for Covid sales as the US pivots to the commercial market for Covid products.
He said the company expects uptake of its Covid vaccine in the US to decline this year and into 2024.
However, Bourla noted that Pfizer expects vaccination rates to recover beginning in 2025 and “continue into 2026 and beyond” provided the company successfully rolls out multiple Covid combination vaccine treatments.
He said the company expects a similar trend outside the US, with some variance in certain countries.
Excluding Covid products, Pfizer expects sales to grow 7% to 9% this year.
Bourla said that’s because the majority of the company’s near-term product launches are expected to occur in the second half of this year. The company expects to launch 19 vaccines and treatments over the next 18 months, he noted.
“As such, we expect our non-Covid revenue to grow faster in the second half of the year than the first,” Bourla said during the earnings call.
Pfizer and other drug companies like Modern And Johnson&Johnson have braced themselves for a sharp drop in Covid-related sales this year as the world emerges from the pandemic and relies less on blockbuster vaccines and treatments for the virus.
But Pfizer is pinning its hopes on mergers and acquisitions and a record-breaking pipeline to help the company navigate its post-pandemic boom.
That pipeline includes Pfizer’s RSV vaccine for use in older adults, which could receive FDA approval later this month.
The pipeline also includes the company’s new pediatric pneumococcal vaccine and an ulcerative colitis drug from recently acquired Arena Pharmaceuticals.
Pfizer also said last year that it plans to hit $25 billion in dealmaking revenue by 2030.
The company has already made strides toward that goal with its $43 billion acquisition of Seagen in March. According to Pfizer, Seagen’s cancer therapies could contribute more than $10 billion in risk-adjusted sales by 2030.
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