Pfizer raises 2020 profit forecast on projected recovery in drug sales

(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) raised its full-year earnings forecast on Tuesday, as the U.S. drugmaker predicted a recovery in vaccination rates and visits to doctors after patients avoided hospitals due to the coronavirus crisis in the first half.

The report comes at the start of a busy week of U.S. pharmaceutical earnings, with investors focusing on updates on the development of vaccines and treatments for the pandemic.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE (22UAy.F) said on Monday they were beginning a late-stage, global study to test their coronavirus vaccine candidate, launching on the same day as a trial for a rival candidate developed by Moderna Inc (MRNA.O).

Pfizer’s shares rose nearly 2% to $38.26 in morning trading after the company also beat second-quarter earnings estimates.

In the quarter, the company took a roughly $500 million hit to sales due to a drop in visits to hospital or the doctor’s office globally due to the health crisis.

The impact, however, was cushioned by demand for blood thinner Eliquis, which has been used by some doctors to help treat COVID-19, and cancer drug Ibrance.

Pfizer raised its forecast for 2020 adjusted profit to between $2.28 and $2.38 per share, from a prior estimate of between $2.25 and $2.35, adding that it expected doctor’s visits to start recovering in the third quarter.

The drugmaker said its 2020 forecast did not include any revenue from its experimental coronavirus vaccine.

The company also was able to restart studies of drugs in development in late April after an initial disruption due to the global outbreak.

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In the second quarter, sales of several important treatments beat consensus estimates, which would help soothe investors who had modest expectations going into earnings, said Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen.

Excluding items, Pfizer earned 78 cents per share, beating estimate of 66 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Sales of $11.80 billion also topped estimates of $11.55 billion.

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