REUTERS: Pfizer Inc posted third-quarter profit well above analysts' estimates on higher sales of cancer drug Ibrance and arthritis medicine Xeljanz, encouraging the largest U.S. drugmaker to lift its earnings forecast for the year.
Shares of the company rose 3per cent before the opening bell on Tuesday as the results suggested that Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla's efforts to slim down the sprawling drugmaker were paying off.
Pfizer announced in July it would separate its off-patent branded drugs business and combine it with generic drugmaker Mylan NV , allowing it to focus on its more profitable drugs such as Ibrance and Xeljanz.
Bourla said on Tuesday Pfizer would become a "smaller, science-based company" following the Mylan deal, which is expected to close next year.
Pfizer raised its 2019 adjusted earnings per share forecast to between US$2.94 and US$3.00, from a prior estimate of US$2.76 to US$2.86. Analysts on average were expecting US$2.82 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES.
J.P.Morgan analyst Chris Schott said the "solid" performance from Pfizer's core products shifts focus to the long-term sustainability of profit margins.
Ibrance sales rose 25per cent to US$1.28 billion in the quarter, ahead of the average consensus of US$1.20 billion, according to Morgan Stanley's estimates.
Xeljanz, which is approved to treat several conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, brought in sales of US$599 million, beating the consensus estimate of US$537 million.
The company also said sales of its patented medicines benefited from demand in emerging markets, which contribute about a quarter of Pfizer's total sales.
Net income attributable to Pfizer's shareholders rose nearly 87per cent to US$7.68 billion, or US$1.36 per share, as the company recognized a gain of US$8.1 billion after closing its consumer health joint venture with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline Plc .
Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 75 cents per share, easily beating the average estimate of 62 cents.
Total revenue fell about 5per cent to US$12.68 billion as sales of pain treatment Lyrica, which recently lost patent protection in the United States, more than halved to US$527 million.
(Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)