November 6, 2018 / 11:38 AM / a month ago

Trulicity leads mixed third quarter for Lilly; shares sink

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co’s (LLY.N) diabetes drug Trulicity helped power higher-than-expected third-quarter profit on Tuesday, while sales of some other newer treatments fell short of Wall Street estimates.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

Eli Lilly shares were off 3 percent at $106.63 in late morning trading, reversing course from pre-market gains.

The quarterly beat is encouraging, but mostly driven by lower taxes and expenses, and sales were affected by lower-than-expected revenue from new drugs, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst John Boris said.

Chief Financial Officer Joshua Smiley told analysts on a conference call that the company expects 2019 sales to take a hit from the loss of patent protection on erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, but that he expects new products to “more than compensate.”

He also said Lilly would consider more acquisitions similar to its recent $1.6 billion purchase of cancer drug developer Armo Biosciences.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker raised its 2018 adjusted earnings forecast to between $5.55 and $5.60 per share, from $5.40 to $5.50 per share.

Lilly, which took its Elanco animal health unit public in September, is banking on 10 new drugs launched since 2014 to drive growth as older treatments face increasing competition.

Trulicity, which recently overtook Humalog as Lilly’s top-selling medicine, had sales of $816.2 million in the quarter, above analysts’ consensus estimate of $801 million, according to brokerage SunTrust.

Lilly on Monday announced that Trulicity had significantly reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart-related death in a broad range of patients with type 2 diabetes in a large clinical trial.

Results from that trial should strengthen, if not cement, Lilly’s position as a leader in diabetes care, analysts said.

While Trulicity sales momentum continued in the quarter, sales of other newer medicines, including diabetes treatments Basaglar and Jardiance and the cancer drug Cyramza, all fell short of Wall Street expectations.

“The quarter was mixed, but it doesn’t change much,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Alex Arfaei said, noting that Lilly had faced pricing pressure in the United States.

Arfaei said the company has become more dependent on Trulicity for growth, but that he sees Lilly’s drugs in the class “as the emerging gold-standard in diabetes.”

Excluding one-time items, Lilly earned $1.39 per share, topping analysts’ average estimate by 4 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose about 7 percent to $6.06 billion, edging past analysts’ expectations of $6.05 billion.

Net income in the quarter more than doubled to $1.15 billion.

Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Bill Berkrot

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