UPDATE 2-Gilead 4th-quarter profit, sales beat estimates

Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:23pm EST

* 4th-qtr net profit rises 15 pct to $762.5 mln

* Revenue rises 18 pct to $2.59 bln

* Forecasts 2013 product sales of $10 bln-$10.2 bln

* R&D, SG&A spending set to rise

By Deena Beasley

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Gilead Sciences Inc on Monday reported higher-than- expected quarterly profit and revenue as sales of its flagship HIV drugs beat Wall Street estimates.

The company also said costs will rise this year as it ramps up development of new hepatitis C drugs.

"They beat handily on the top line and they beat on the bottom line by 2 cents," while suggesting that up to $100 million in sales were due to inventory stock-up, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee.

For full-year 2013, the company forecast net product sales of $10 billion to $10.2 billion, which Yee called "conservative" following record sales of more than $2.5 billion in the latest quarter. Gilead reported sales of $9.4 billion for 2012.

"They're taking advantage of the positive sentiment about their HCV (hepatitis C virus) portfolio to substantially ramp their R&D (research and development) and SG&A (sales, general and administrative) investment," Sanford Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges said in an emailed statement. "Investors are likely to remain quite bullish about HCV given progress and performance."

Gilead is the world's largest maker of branded drugs to treat the human immunodeficiency virus, the cause of AIDS, but its near-term value is tightly linked to progress in developing new drugs to treat the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus.

The company, based in Foster City, California, said earlier on Monday that two late-stage trials of its experimental hepatitis C regimens met their goals and it remains on track for file for initial regulatory approvals this year.

Up to 170 million people worldwide are estimated to be infected with hepatitis C.

Adjusting for one-time items, Gilead earned 50 cents a share during the quarter, exceeding the 48 cents a share forecast, on average, by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net profit rose to $762.5 million, or 47 cents per share, from $665.1 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales of HIV drug Atripla rose 6 percent to $917.5 million, which beat the $874 million expected by analysts, according to numbers published by ISI Group. Sales of HIV drug Truvada rose 12 percent to $832.7 million, surpassing analysts' estimate of $793 million.

Revenue for the quarter rose 18 percent to $2.59 billion. Analysts expected $2.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Gilead, which have gained 45 percent over the past 12 months, closed at $39.59 on the Nasdaq, and were little changed at $39.75 in after hours trading.