Pfizer shares climbed higher after it unveiled quarterly results above expectations and raised its annual profit forecast. In the first quarter of 2019, the US pharmaceutical group achieved a net profit of $3.884 billion, up 9.1%. Per share earnings came in at 68 cents. Excluding certain items, EPS was 85 cents, above the consensus of 75 cents. Revenue rose 2% to $13.118 billion thanks in particular to its treatment against breast cancer Ibrance. The Wall Street consensus was for $12.90 billion.
Merck & Co also made gains on Wall Street as it announced Tuesday first quarter results above the expectations of the market and raised its revenue and profit forecasts for the whole year, helped by the sales jump of Keytruda, immunotherapy treatment against cancer.
In the first three months of the year, Merck posted earnings per share of $1.22, excluding extraordinary items, on sales of $10.81 billion. Analysts on average expected $1.06 and $10.50 billion, respectively.
Keytruda is the main growth driver of the Merck Group because of its leading position as an initial treatment for lung cancer. Following positive tests, it could also be required in the treatment of kidney cancer. Sales soared 55% to $2.27 billion in the first quarter.
Eli Lilly failed to impress investors after the company lowered its annual sales forecast as it expects to continue to suffer from lower prices in the United States and increasing generic competition for some of its treatments. The US laboratory, whose portfolio of cancer treatments will shrink with the planned withdrawal of Lartruvo, now expects a sales in 2019 between $22.0 and $22.5 billion, against a previous range from 25.1 to 25.6 billion. On the other hand, it has raised the higher end of its annual earnings per share earnings range by five cents, now expected to be between $5.60 and $5.70. Sales of its flagship treatment for Trulicity diabetes reached only $879.7 million versus 952 million analysts had expected.