(Adds details on tax rate, updates shares)
By Ransdell Pierson
July 25 AbbVie Inc, which last week
announced plans to buy Dublin-based drugmaker Shire Plc
for $55 billion, reported stronger-than-expected quarterly
earnings on surging sales of its Humira treatment for rheumatoid
Second-quarter sales rose 5 percent to $4.93 billion,
topping Wall Street expectations of $4.7 billion. The gains were
mostly due to Humira, an injectable treatment whose global sales
jumped 26 percent to $3.29 billion, AbbVie said on Friday.
Jefferies analyst Jeffrey Holford said Humira sales were
$350 million above expectations, and he affirmed his rating of
AbbVie as the top global pick in the pharmaceutical industry.
"The scale of the Humira beat will surprise all," Holford
said. But he noted that numerous other AbbVie products fell
short in the quarter, including the Androgel testosterone drug,
Kaletra medicine for HIV, and Lupron treatment for prostate
Humira, the world's top-selling drug, now accounts for 67
percent of AbbVie's sales. Reliance on the medicine by the
suburban Chicago company is a main reason it sought out Shire,
which has an array of lucrative treatments for rare diseases.
After buying Shire, AbbVie plans to locate the combined
company in Britain, where taxes are lower. The maneuver, called
tax inversion, is being used by many U.S. companies, especially
drugmakers, and has come under fire from President Barack Obama
and some members of Congress.
Humira sales were especially strong in the United States,
where they rose 36 percent, helped by retail buying patterns.
But Humira will take a breather in the third quarter, AbbVie
predicted, with its U.S. sales growth tapering to the "high
teens" percentage range.
Humira, approved in 2002 to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is
also used to treat other inflammatory conditions.
Although Humira's U.S. patent lapses in late 2016, AbbVie
has said it will take years for other drugmakers to develop and
win approval for their own versions.
Besides buying Shire, AbbVie is trying to lessen its
dependence on Humira by attempting to develop treatments for
hepatitis C, cancer and other diseases.
AbbVie said it had earned $1.1 billion, or 68 cents per
share, in the second quarter, compared with $1.07 billion, or 66
cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding writedowns and other special items, AbbVie earned
82 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 76 cents,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company's effective tax rate in the quarter was 22.2
percent. AbbVie said it expects its tax rate to drop to the 13
percent range by 2016, after its completes its acquisition of
AbbVie said it still expected full-year earnings of $3.06 to
$3.16 per share, excluding special items. It forecast
third-quarter earnings of 77 cents to 79 cents per share, which
is in line with the Thomson Reuters forecast of 77 cents.
AbbVie shares were down 1.7 percent at $53.18 in afternoon
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and
Lisa Von Ahn; Editing by Diane Craft)