Vaccine sales power Pfizer through first quarter

Pfizer, buoyed by a huge jump in sales for its COVID-19 vaccine and solid performance across most of the company, is hiking its 2021 financial forecast sharply after blowing past Wall Street expectations for the first quarter.

The New York drugmaker and its German partner on the vaccine, BioNTech, continue to sign contracts with multiple countries for their two-dose shot. They reported $3.46 billion in first-quarter sales and now expect to rake in roughly $26 billion over the year, up from their prior forecast of about $15 billion.

The companies may soon receive U.S. and EU approval to give the vaccine to 12- through 15-year-olds, and they continue testing the vaccine in other patient groups and on developing new vaccine versions that have a longer shelf life and don’t require ultracold storage.

Pfizer on Tuesday reported net income of $4.88 billion, or 86 cents per share. That was up from $3.36 billion, or 60 cents per share, in 2020’s first quarter, when the global coronavirus pandemic began triggering lockdowns, and doctor visits and new prescriptions for other medicines dropped significantly.

Adjusted earnings, excluding one-time items, jumped 48% to $5.26 billion, or 93 cents per share, far above the 79 cents Wall Street was expecting, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Revenue was $14.58 billion, also easily exceeding forecasts of $13.49 billion.

Pfizer said even without vaccine sales it is meeting its goal of increasing revenue by at least 6% each year through 2025.

“Excluding the growth provided from (the vaccine), our revenues grew 8% operationally,” Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in a prepared statement.

Sales of cancer drugs jumped 18% and sales of medicines administered in hospitals rebounded 11% as patients got treatments delayed by hesitance to go to hospitals swamped with COVID-19 patients.

Pfizer now expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.55 to $3.65 per share, up from $3.10 to $3.20 per share in February, and revenue in the range of $70.5 billion to $72.5 billion, up from $59.4 billion to $61.4 billion in the February forecast.

Pfizer has said that this year it can produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine, including 200 million doses promised for the U.S. by the end of May.

In premarket trading, Pfizer shares rose 52 cents to $42.35.

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A portion of this story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on PFE at https://www.zacks.com/ap/PFE

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