February 11, 2014 / 12:25 PM / 4 years ago

Regeneron forecasts strong Eylea sales; shares rise

Feb 11 (Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc forecast U.S. sales of eye drug Eylea to reach $1.7-$1.8 billion in 2014 as it expects the drug to win approval for newer uses, sending its shares up 3 percent before the opening bell.

Regeneron, whose stock has been propelled by the success of Eylea, said U.S. sales of the sight-saving drug rose 46 percent to $402 million in the fourth quarter. The drug’s international sales touched $184 million in the quarter.

Eylea is used to treat wet age-related macular edema - the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. It is marketed by Bayer AG in Europe.

Since its launch in late 2011, Eylea has become one of the fastest-growing drugs in the history of biotechnology, grabbing market share from rivals such as Roche AG’s Lucentis.

The drug is also being evaluated in a late-stage study for use in diabetic macular edema (DME) and macular edema following branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO).

The jump in Eylea sales lifted revenue but the company’s fourth-quarter earnings fell short of analysts’ estimates due to significantly higher operating expenses.

The company’s net income fell to $97 million, or 86 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $470 million, or $4.08 per share, a year earlier. The year-ago quarter included a non-cash tax benefit of $336 million.

Analysts had expected a profit of 98 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue jumped 47 percent to $610.4 million, helped by collaboration revenue from partner Bayer. Expenses rose 48 percent during the quarter.

Regeneron shares rose about 3 percent to $311.50 in premarket trading on Tuesday. (Reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore, additional reporting by Natalie Grover; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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