Pfizer boosts forecast for Covid vaccine sales as profits jump
Pfizer Inc. boosted its forecast for Covid-19 vaccine revenue this year and said it expects stronger earnings for the full year than it previously anticipated.
The drugmaker now sees $26 billion in vaccine sales in 2021, up from $15 billion, and adjusted earnings per share of $3.55 to $3.65, up from $3.10 to $3.20 previously. Pfizer said it expects to deliver 1.6 billion doses of its Covid shot this year under contracts signed as of mid-April, and will have the capacity to produce at least 3 billion doses in 2022.
The two-shot regimen is one of three vaccines in the US granted emergency-use authorizations. The company expects to seek full approval for the shot this month, according to Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla, and could soon hear from regulators on expanding use of the vaccine in adolescents. Bourla said he sees the product having lasting demand.
“Based on what we’ve seen, we believe that a durable demand for our Covid-19 vaccine -– similar to that of the flu vaccines –- is a likely outcome,” Bourla said in remarks prepared for a Tuesday analyst call.
Shares of Pfizer were up 1.1% in premarket trading in New York on Tuesday. Through the close of trading on Monday, the drugmaker had gained 8.2% this year.
In the first quarter, the BNT162b2 Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE drew $3.5 billion in sales, the New York-based company said in its statement Tuesday.
“We also are in ongoing discussions with multiple countries around the world about their needs,” Bourla said, “and we expect these discussions to lead to additional supply agreements.”
Meanwhile, the vaccine partners are studying their shot in children ages 6 months to 11 years old. Pfizer expects to seek an emergency-use authorization for for two cohorts (age 2 to 5, and 5 to 11) in September, and for those six months to 2 years in the fourth quarter. For those 12 to 15, a clearance is expected imminently.
Bourla said Pfizer is testing a third dose of the existing formulation of its Covid shot to determine whether a booster provides protection against SARS-CoV-2 virus variants currently in circulation.
The company has started to evaluate an updated formulation that encodes the spike protein of the variant first identified in South Africa. “This study is designed to establish a regulatory pathway to update the current vaccine to address any future variant of potential concern in approximately 100 days,” Bourla said.
The company expects immunogenicity data for both studies in early July.
Excluding the vaccine, Pfizer’s core drug business showed significant growth, leading it to raise revenue guidance specific to that portfolio by $200 million for the year. The results were stronger than some rivals who saw sales suffer in the first quarter after a new surge in US virus cases.
Overall, revenue in the quarter was $14.58 billion, stronger than the $13.62 billion that analysts had expected on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. First-quarter adjusted earnings per share were 93 cents, up 47% from 63 cents a year ago.