Bristol-Myers Squibb's fourth-quarter sales up 4 percent, led by growth from Eliquis, Opdivo

Bristol-Myers Squibb reported Monday that fourth-quarter sales rose 4 percent year-over-year to $5.4 billion, topping analyst estimates of $5.3 billion, boosted by strong revenue growth from Eliquis and Opdivo. Sales of the two products in the three-month period both reached $1.4 billion, reflecting increases of 44 percent and 4 percent, respectively, with Opdivo besting analyst forecasts of $1.3 billion.

In the quarter, the company posted a loss of $2.3 billion, hit by a $2.9-billion tax provision, versus a profit of $898 million in the same period of 2016. CEO Giovanni Caforio remarked "I am proud of our results in 2017, with sales growth driven by strong commercial performance of our prioritised brands."

Concerning other products, quarterly sales of Orencia increased 6 percent year-over-year to $662 million, while revenue from Sprycel rose 7 percent to $527 million. Additionally, sales of Yervoy were up 2 percent year-over-year to $269 million, with revenue from Empliciti climbing 34 percent to $63 million.  

Regarding Bristol-Myers Squibb's established brands, sales of Baraclude declined 21 percent versus the year-ago period to $233 million, while revenue from the Sustiva franchise fell 29 percent to $174 million. The drugmaker also recorded $143 million in sales for the Reyataz franchise, down 31 percent year-over-year, with revenue from the company's hepatitis C products plunging 74 percent to $59 million.  

For the full year, sales increased 7 percent to $20.8 billion, with revenue from Eliquis and Opdivo both reaching $4.9 billion, representing growth of 46 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb posted a profit of $975 million for 2017, down from $4.5 billion in the prior year.  

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Looking ahead, the drugmaker indicated that sales are expected to increase in the low- to mid-single digits this year, with earnings per share in the range of $3.15 to $3.30. Analysts anticipate full-year earnings of $3.23 per share. Bristol-Myers Squibb added that it expects a tax rate this year of between 20 percent and 21 percent, following recent changes to tax legislation in the US.

Separately on Monday, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that the Phase III CheckMate -227 study investigating the combination of Opdivo plus Yervoy versus chemotherapy in first-line advanced non-small cell-lung cancer patients whose tumours have high tumour mutation burden, regardless of PD-L1 expression, met its co-primary endpoint of progression-free survival.

"We believe the exciting results from CheckMate -227 that we announced today are a meaningful step forward for patients with lung cancer," commented Caforio, continuing "as we begin 2018, I am confident that we are well positioned for long-term growth through our strong commercial and R&D capabilities in bringing transformational medicines to patients with serious diseases."

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