AbbVie posts 4Q loss on Shire deal breakup fee but adjusted results top expectations on Humira

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FILE - This Friday, July 18, 2014, file photo, shows AbbVie's signature drug Humira, in Houston. Drugmaker Abbvie posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, on double-digit growth of its blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)


NORTH CHICAGO, Illinois — Drugmaker Abbvie posted better-than-expected adjusted results for the fourth quarter on Friday because of double-digit growth of its blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira.

Sales of Humira increased 10.6 percent to $3.36 billion, offsetting lower sales of the testosterone medication Androgel and other medications. Humira is approved for more than a dozen conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis.

The North Chicago-based company's full results were weighed down by a $2.2 billion breakup fee and other expenses from its abandoned merger with Shire PLC. That left it with a loss of $810 million, or 51 cents per share, for the fourth quarter.

AbbVie had envisioned buying Shire and reincorporating on the British island of Jersey, where Shire is incorporated. But AbbVie's board got cold feet after the U.S. government created new limitations on the tax benefits of incorporating overseas.

Excluding the impact of breakup fee and related expenses the company would have earned 89 cents per share. That was better than the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research of 85 cents per share.

The drugmaker posted revenue of $5.45 billion in the period, also topping Street forecasts. Analysts expected $5.37 billion, according to Zacks.

The quarter's results included $48 million from the Viekira Pak, a new hepatitis C medication approved in the U.S. in December. It's among several new pill-only hepatitis C treatments, including offerings from Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences, which are all big improvements over earlier treatments.

Company executives told analysts Viekira could reach annual sales of $3 billion by the end of 2015 with further growth in 2016 as the drug expands into new countries. Doctors had written 1,100 prescriptions for the drug as of January 16.

Last month Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager, announced it would make AbbVie's drug the preferred treatment for patients who have the most common form of hepatitis C, genotype 1. Earlier this month insurer Aetna Inc. said it reached a deal with Gilead to make its drugs the preferred options for hepatitis C in exchange for pricing discounts. A course of Sovaldi has a list price of $84,000 and Harvoni $94,000. The amount of the discount wasn't disclosed.

The list price for AbbVie's drug is $83,320.

About 3.2 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, which generally doesn't cause noticeable symptoms until the liver is damaged.

For the year, the company reported profit of $1.77 billion, or $1.10 per share. Revenue was reported as $19.96 billion.

AbbVie expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.25 to $4.45 per share.

Its shares fell $2.79, or 4.4 percent, to $60.34 in trading Friday.

AbbVie shares have decreased 3.5 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has declined roughly 2 percent. The stock has climbed 33 percent in the last 12 months.

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