Pfizer Q2 sales slip, but still beat expectations

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Pfizer Q2 sales slip, but still beat expectations

Pfizer's sales lost a little bit of steam during the second quarter, falling 2% to $12.8 billion for the period ended June 29, compared to the same period last year, yet they still beat consensus estimates. The drugmaker also dialed back year-end expectations to between $48.7 billion and $50.7 billion, as opposed to in the $49.2 billion-to-$51.2-billion range initially projected.

Patent losses (sales of overactive bladder medication Detrol LA dropped 63% to $57 million compared to the same period last year) and ebbing co-promotion agreements such as those for Enbrel and Spiriva ate into performance. Generic Celebrex—which is due to hit markets by December—prompted the company to lower its year-end expectations. A court invalidated a Celebrex patent extension in March, and Pfizer has since struck licensing deals with Teva, Watson and Mylan that will allow these three to launch generics by year's end.

Nerve-pain drug Lyrica ($1.3B in Q2 sales), cancer treatment Xalkori ($108M) and Xeljanz ($68M) were key performers for the quarter, as were blood thinner Eliquis and the new OTC version of heartburn drug Nexium. Pfizer did not break out sales for Eliquis or Nexium, but emphasized their importance.

The company also said it expects to complete is palbociclib filing with the FDA by the end of August for post-menopausal women with estrogen-receptor positive human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Although the company will pursue Phase-III tests, this application will be based on Phase-II results from Pfizer's PALOMA-1 trial. Phase-III results will be available in 2016, but Albert Bourla, who heads the company's vaccines, oncology and consumer health business, told investors the FDA has not indicated that an approval hinges on these results. Palbociclib is of particular significance for Pfizer, because it is considered a keystone for a possible spin-off should Pfizer decide to split into three divisions.

Pfizer has an opportunity to renew talks with AstraZeneca, which rebuffed its $117-billion offer, but the company told investors it was open to considering other acquisitions. Although analysts framed acquisition queries from the standpoint of a tax-inversion advantage, executives treated a lower tax rate as a side benefit, saying an acquisition target would have to complement its pipeline. Possible areas of interest include oncology and vaccines.

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