August 2, 2018 / 11:09 AM / 16 days ago

Regeneron posts quarterly profit beat, strongly backs Eylea's future

(Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by higher sales of its newer medicines and outlined a growth strategy for its flagship drug Eylea, which is facing heightened competition.

FILE PHOTO: A robotic DNA sample automation machine works on DNA samples at a Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. laboratory at the biotechnology company's headquarters in Tarrytown, New York, U.S., March 24, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Shares of the Tarrytown, New York-based company rose 6.8 percent to $396.43 in morning trading.

Investors have been focusing on the company’s newer drugs, including eczema treatment Dupixent, after Roche AG (ROG.S) launched an Eylea rival in prefilled syringes, threatening Regeneron’s dominant position in the eye-disease market.

However, Regeneron still sees a “large opportunity” for Eylea to treat diabetic eye disease and the drugmaker will focus on expanding its label and marketing it with a new TV campaign, company executives said on a conference call with analysts.

Regeneron will also launch its own prefilled syringe version of Eylea in 2019, commercial head Marion McCourt said.

“While we do think having a prefilled syringe available ... will be helpful to physicians... We don’t see (the lack of) it as, in any way, a negative to our current profile,” she added.

U.S. sales of Eylea, which has driven much of Regeneron’s growth since late 2011, increased 8 pct to $992 million in the second quarter, but missed consensus estimates of $1 billion, according to brokerage SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Based on net sales, Eylea currently accounts for about 70 percent of the overall U.S. market for anti-VEGF treatments, a class of medicines that reduce new blood vessel growth or swelling, the company said.

Sales of Regeneron’s eczema treatment Dupixent jumped to $209 million, up from $28 million last year and ahead of consensus estimates of $187 million, helped by its launch in new markets.

Right now Regeneron is focusing on launching its new drugs but it’s also looking at keeping Eylea competitive, RBC Capital Markets analyst Kennen MacKay said.

In the second quarter ended June 30, Regeneron’s net income rose about 42 percent to $551.4 million, or $4.82 per share.

Excluding items, the drugmaker earned $5.45 per share, topping the average analyst estimate of $4.70.

Total revenue rose 9.3 pct to $1.61 billion, beating estimates of $1.56 billion.

Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Shailesh Kuber

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