* 3rd-quarter EPS $1.91 excluding items vs Street view $1.60
* Revenue up 6 percent to $1.39 billion
* Shares rise 2.6 percent
(Adds analyst comment, BG-12 delay detail, updates shares)
By Bill Berkrot
Oct 25 Biogen Idec Inc reported much
higher-than-expected third-quarter profit on Thursday on
increased sales of its drugs for multiple sclerosis and cancer,
and the U.S. biotechnology company raised its full-year earnings
The results were also helped by lower-than-expected costs,
"They put up a nice solid quarter," said RBC Capital Markets
analyst Michael Yee. "What's being appreciated in biotech is the
consistent beat and raise by all four of the large cap biotechs
this week and that's got the sector on the move."
In addition to Biogen, Amgen Inc, Gilead Sciences
Inc, and Celgene Corp all reported
higher-than-expected third quarter profits and raised their
full-year earnings forecasts.
Excluding one-time items, Biogen earned $1.91 per share,
topping analysts' average expectations by 31 cents, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Biogen shares rose 2.6 percent.
Biogen now expects 2012 earnings of $6.40 per share to $6.50
per share, excluding items, up from its prior view above $6.20.
The company also now expects 2012 revenue growth to be in
the mid-to-high single digits in percentage terms, compared with
2011. It had forecast growth in the mid-single digits.
Wells Fargo analyst Brian Abrahams said in a research note
the new forecast was in a range that he and Wall Street had
expected, adding "and with this quarter's performance seems
easily achievable or beatable".
However, most investors are focused on Biogen's experimental
oral MS drug BG-12, which is expecting a U.S. approval decision
around March, after the Food and Drug Administration earlier
this month extended its review of the medicine by three months.
The company told analysts the agency had some questions for
which Biogen submitted written responses, but that they did not
involve any additional safety analysis. It said the FDA simply
needed more time to review the BG-12 data and characterized the
delay as the normal course of business. It had previously said
the FDA was not seeking any additional data.
Biogen shares have nearly doubled during the last 18 months,
driven primarily by enthusiasm over the impressive data for
BG-12, also known as dimethyl fumarate. Once approved, BG-12
would be the third oral treatment for the debilitating disease,
but based on its safety and efficacy data it is expected to
become the industry leader with annual sales in excess of $1
billion, according to analysts. MS affects more than 400,000
people in the U.S., and 2.1 million worldwide, according to the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The company told analysts on a conference call it was "well
prepared for upcoming product launches" and said costs would
likely rise in the fourth quarter as it gets ready to start
selling what is seen as by far its most important future growth
Biogen also expects to submit an application in the first
quarter of 2013 seeking U.S. approval of its promising
long-acting treatment for hemophilia B - the less common form of
the disorder in which patients lack certain proteins necessary
for blood clotting. Hemophilia will be a new market for the
Key data on an experimental drug for ALS, also known as Lou
Gherig's disease, is expected late this year or early next year,
Biogen's net profit in the third quarter rose to $398
million, or $1.67 per share, from $354 million, or $1.43 per
share, a year ago.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $1.39 billion, a tad above Wall
Street estimates of $1.38 billion.
Sales of the MS drug Avonex rose 8 percent to $736 million.
Biogen reported that its revenue from its other multiple
sclerosis treatment Tysabri dipped 1 percent to $275 million.
Irish drugmaker Elan Corp, Biogen's Tysabri
marketing partner, previously reported worldwide sales of $404
million for the quarter, with U.S. sales of the infused drug
higher than expected, while sales outside the United States fell
short of analysts' estimates.
The company said 2,100 new Tysabri patients were added in
the third quarter. The medicine is approved for patients who
have had an inadequate response to or are intolerant of other MS
Avonex demand was being driven by the recently available,
more convenient pen-like injector for the drug. Biogen said it
was seeing significant conversion from the older needle delivery
system, and that more than two-thirds of new Avonex patients
were using the once-weekly pen injector.
International Avonex sales were $274 million. While the
result was strong, it was hurt somewhat by unfavorable foreign
exchange rates and price decreases in some markets like Spain
Company revenue for Rituxan, the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and
rheumatoid arthritis drug Biogen co-markets with Roche,
rose 8 percent to $288 million.
Biogen Idec shares rose $3.81, or 2.6 percent, to $145.87 in
late morning trade on the Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick,
Jeffrey Benkoe and Andrew Hay)