* First quarter EPS, excluding items, $1.97 vs est $1.61
* Revenue up 10 percent to $1.42 billion
* Forecasts 2013 earnings per share of $7.80 to $7.90
* Expects revenue to grow 16-18 percent in 2013
* Shares rise more than 4 percent
By Bill Berkrot
April 25 Biogen Idec Inc reported
higher-than-expected first quarter profit on Thursday and raised
its full year forecasts, and the U.S. biotechnology said it sees
its new drug Tecfidera becoming the leading oral medicine for
Biogen management declined to give any sales details from
Tecfidera's first few weeks on the market, but Chief Executive
George Scangos called the March 27 U.S. approval "a watershed
event for our company."
Shares in the company jumped 4.3 percent in early trading to
$215.00 on Nasdaq.
Tecfidera is widely seen as Biogen's most important future
growth driver, with analysts estimating 2013 sales of about $300
million and eventual peak sales in excess of $3 billion.
The new drug is expected to gain European approval during
the current quarter, with an initial launch in Germany, followed
by other European nations in 2014, the company said.
Biogen also said it expects to launch two new long-acting
drugs for the hereditary blood disorder hemophilia in 2014.
Tecfidera is the third oral MS drug on the market, but is
expected to eclipse both Gilenya, sold by Novartis AG,
and Sanofi's Aubagio due to its favorable safety
profile and efficacy demonstrated in clinical trials.
Biogen's stock has advanced more than 40 percent so far this
year and has nearly quadrupled over the past three years,
largely driven by positive Tecfidera data and expectations for
its future sales potential.
The company's quarterly results were helped by low taxes and
sales growth of its older injectable multiple sclerosis
treatments, Avonex and Tysabri.
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 raised the forecast due to its greater share
of Tysabri revenue following a deal last month with partner Elan
Corp, a tax benefit seen in the first quarter, and
strength in its core business.
"We are on a very promising trajectory for the remainder of
the year and for years to come," Scangos told analysts on a
TYSABRI BOOSTS REVENUE
Biogen said it had a net profit of $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.
The 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 Avonex jumped 13 percent to $746 million, edging
past Wall Street estimates of about $740 million.
Elan, which shares revenue from the MS drug Tysabri with
Biogen, said on Wednesday that global sales of the 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.
Scangos addressed an article in this week's New England
Journal of Medicine, which attracted the attention of analysts.
The report detailed four previously known cases of patients who
suffered a potentially fatal brain infection, known as PML,
after taking a drug for psoriasis that used an active ingredient
also in Tecfidera.
Scangos stressed that there have been no cases of PML or
other serious infections with Tecfidera.
"It's hard to understand why these old reports are deemed
worthy of publishing. This is old news," he said.