(Adds investigation into sales and promotional practices;
updates stock price, 6th paragraph)
By Bill Berkrot
April 23 Biogen Idec Inc on Wednesday
raised its full-year earnings and revenue forecasts as
first-quarter sales of its new Tecfidera multiple sclerosis drug
extended a run of eclipsing Wall Street sales expectations.
Tecfidera racked up sales of $506 million for the quarter,
easily topping analysts' expectations of about $440 million and
the previous quarter's sales of $398 million.
The oral medicine, which was approved in the United States
in March 2013, had been on track to become the drug to reach $1
billion in sales in the shortest time. But that pharmaceutical
industry record was shattered on Tuesday, when Gildead Sciences
Inc said its Sovaldi hepatitis C treatment logged more
than $2 billion in sales in its first full quarter on the
Based on the strong performance of its MS drugs, Biogen
raised its full-year forecast and now expects revenue growth of
26 percent to 28 percent, up from a prior range of 22 percent to
The U.S. biotechnology company said it expected 2014
earnings, excluding items, of $11.35 to $11.45 per share,
compared with a prior outlook of $11.00 to $11.20. Analysts on
average are looking for a profit of $11.32 per share, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of Biogen were down 0.6 percent at $304.41 in late
"The raised guidance is a testament to the U.S. beat on
Tecfidera sales and signals confidence in both the hemophilia
launch as well as the Tecfidera launch in Europe," RBC Capital
Markets analyst Michael Yee said.
Biogen plans to begin selling Alprolix, its recently
approved long-acting treatment for hemophilia B, in the United
States in early May. The company said last week it would price
Alprolix on a par with older, less convenient treatments, which
should help it get off to a strong start.
The company reported net income of $479.9 million, or $2.02
per share for the quarter, compared with $426.7 million, or
$1.79 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding special items, Biogen said it earned $2.47 per
share, missing the analysts' average estimate of $2.55. But the
company said its earnings were reduced by about 35 cents a share
due to a $118 million expense from a collaboration with Japan's
Eisai Co on development of Alzheimer's disease
Without that expense, "the (earnings) number could have been
as high as $2.82, which would have crushed expectations," Yee
Revenue jumped 51 percent to $2.1 billion, edging past Wall
Street estimates of $1.99 billion.
Biogen said $46 million of the Tecfidera sales came from
outside the United States. The drug began selling in Germany in
February, and the company said it planned to introduce the
medicine in additional European countries in the coming months,
with reimbursement agreements already secured in Norway and
"We're encouraged by the signs from Germany," Tony Kingsley,
Biogen's head of global commercial operations, told analysts and
investors on a conference call.
Biogen's older MS drugs also performed well in the quarter.
Sales of Avonex rose 2 percent to $761 million, topping Wall
Street estimates of about $735 million.
Tysabri sales were $441 million, an increase of 41 percent,
due in part to Biogen's regaining full rights to the drug in the
second quarter of last year.
Biogen said some patients were still discontinuing use of
Tysabri, but the company had retained 70 percent of that
business, primarily due to switchovers to Tecfidera.
The company also said in a regulatory filing that it was
subpoenaed by state and federal authorities investigating its
sales and promotional practices, and by the federal government
for documents related to Biogen's relationship with certain
pharmacy benefit managers.
The company, which had previously said it was being
investigated by governmental authorities, said it was
cooperating in the investigations.
(Additional reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn
and Jonathan Oatis)