(Reuters) - Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O) reported higher-than-expected first quarter profit on Thursday, helped by low taxes and sales growth of its injectable multiple sclerosis treatments, and the U.S. biotechnology company raised its full-year forecast.
Biogen shares rose more than 3 percent in premarket trading.
Biogen said it now expects earnings, excluding items, of $7.80 to $7.90 per share, up from its prior view of $7.15 to $7.25 per share. The company now sees full-year revenue growth of 16 percent to 18 percent. It had previously projected 10 percent growth. Analysts are estimating adjusted earnings of $7.81 per share on revenue of $6.44 billion.
Biogen said it earned $426.8 million, or $1.79 per share, in the first quarter, up from $302.7 million, or $1.25 per share, in the year earlier period.
Excluding special items, the company earned $1.97 per share, topping analysts' average forecasts by 36 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
This marks the last quarter before Biogen results will include sales of its new oral multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera, which won U.S. approval in late March and is expected to be Biogen's most important future growth driver. Analysts estimate eventual peak sales in excess of $3 billion.
The new drug is expected to gain European approval during the current quarter, the company said. Biogen said it expects to launch two new long-acting drugs for the hereditary blood disorder hemophilia in 2014.
The company's stock has advanced more than 40 percent in the year to date and has nearly quadrupled over the past three years, largely driven by enthusiasm over positive Tecfidera data and its future sales potential.
The quarterly results were helped by a $33 million tax benefit and other tax credits that added 16 cents a share to net profit. Its tax rate for the quarter was just 13.2 percent.
Total revenue grew 10 percent to $1.42 billion, matching Wall Street expectations.
Sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex jumped 13 percent to $746 million, edging past Wall Street estimates of about $740 million.
Irish drugmaker Elan ELN.I, which shares sales of the MS drug Tysabri with Biogen, said on Wednesday that sales of that medicine grew 14 percent in the quarter to $456 million. That, too, was a bit better than Wall Street estimates of about $447 million.
Beginning in May, Biogen will get a far higher percentage of Tysabri sales after the company paid Elan $3.25 billion to gain full rights to the lucrative product. Under the agreement, Elan will get just 12 percent of global Tysabri sales for the first 12 months, rising to 18 percent after that.
Biogen shares were up at $213 in premarket trading, from their Wednesday close on Nasdaq of $206.18.