Three major pharmaceutical companies just reported earnings — here's how they did

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An Eli Lilly & Co. logo is seen on the cap of a pill bottle in this arranged photograph at a pharmacy in Princeton, Illinois.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck rose more than 1% in premarket trading on Tuesday after reporting first-quarter financial results that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

However, shares of drug giant Eli Lilly dropped 3.0% after releasing first-quarter earnings that topped profit expectations, but missed on revenue. Sales of two of Eli Lilly’s key drugs, Trulicity and Alimta, fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts. Merck’s earnings got a slight lift from sales of vaccines amid the worst measles outbreak since the disease was eradicated from the U.S. and cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda.

Health care has been the worst-performing sector in the stock market this year on concerns of drug price reform and “Medicare for All” proposals from Democratic lawmakers. The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund, an ETF that tracks the health-care industry’s biggest companies, has risen by just 2.7% as of Monday, significantly lagging the broader market indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 13% over the same period, and the S&P 500 is 17% higher.

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly said it expects further price declines in the United States this year as well as increased competition from generics. The company’s erectile dysfunction drug Cialis lost exclusivity last year.

The U.S. drugmaker now expects full-year revenue between $22 billion and $22.5 billion, lower than a previous forecast of of $25.1 billion to $25.6 billion. However, it raised its adjusted full-year earnings forecast by 5 cents to $5.60 to $5.70 per share.


The company reported first-quarter earnings of $1.22 per share, beating the analysts’ expectations of $1.06 a share. Revenue came in at $10.81 billion, beating estimates of $10.48 billion.

Merck raised its earnings guidance for the year. It now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share between $4.67 and $4.79. That’s higher than its prior forecast of $4.57 to $4.72.


Pfizer earned 85 cents per share in the first quarter, beating Wall Street estimates by 10 cents. The company reported revenue of $13.12 billion, higher than the $12.99 billion forecast.

The New York-based drug company also raised its earnings per share forecast by a cent. It now expects between $2.83 to $2.93 per share.

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