Pfizer surprises with Q4 profit as primary-care sales offset covid slump

Pfizer  (PFE) – Get Free Report posted a surprise fourth-quarter profit Tuesday, while sticking to its 2024 earnings forecasts, as better-than-expected sales from its primary-care division offset the ongoing slide in covid-related revenue. 

Adjusted earnings for the three months ended in December were 10 cents a share, down from a profit of $1.14 over the same period a year earlier but well inside the Wall Street consensus forecast of a loss of 22 cents a share.

Group revenue, Pfizer said, fell 41.4% to $14.25 billion, narrowly missing analysts’ estimates of a $14.4 billion tally.

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Slumping vaccine sales, which pushed overall revenue past $100 billion in 2022, forced the drugmaker to lower its 2023 profit projections in October. 

Pfizer told investors at the time that it would write off around $4.6 billion in inventories of Paxlovid, its oral covid treatment, and booked a further $5.5 billion noncash charge against its third-quarter earnings.

Pfizer also affirmed its 2024 profit guidance, with a range of between $2.05 to $2.25 per share that includes a 40-cent hit from its $43 billion acquisition of cancer-drug specialist Seagen.

Group revenue, Pfizer said, should range between $58.5 billion and $61.5 billion. 

“We are encouraged by the strong performance of our non-covid products in the fourth quarter of 2023, including significant contributions from new launches and robust year-over-year growth for several key in-line brands,” Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in a statement.

In a statement on Jan. 30, 2024, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla touted the health-care giant’s non-covid product sales.

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“We are entering 2024 with a solid foundation,” he added. “We believe our commitment to execution, maximizing the performance of our new products, and delivering the next wave of pipeline innovation will fuel Pfizer’s growth and make a difference in the lives of patients everywhere.” 

Pfizer shares were marked 0.91% higher in premarket trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate an opening bell price of $27.73 each.

Last month, Pfizer said it would not advance a study of a two-dose obesity treatment, danuglipron, following a high level of side effects in patients involved in the Phase II trial.

The decision marked a significant setback in Pfizer’s ambitions to enter the weight-loss-drug market, which is currently dominated by Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy. 

Pfizer rival Eli Lilly  (LLY) – Get Free Report also won approval for its own weight-loss treatment, Zepbound, from the Food and Drug Administration in November.

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