Biogen hikes its forecast as zippy Tecfidera fuels big profits

For Biogen Idec's second quarter, multiple sclerosis star Tecfidera blew analysts' estimates out of the water, as it's been wont to do. But it wasn't Tecfidera alone that helped the Massachusetts biotech trounce sales estimates by about $250 million. Older MS therapy Avonex and brand-new hemophilia treatment Alprolix chipped in, too, contributing to what ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum called a "fantastic quarter on virtually all fronts."

Sales of Tecfidera more than tripled to $700 million for the quarter, far surpassing analysts' forecasts of $555.7 million, Bloomberg reports. Overall, revenue surged 40% to $2.42 billion, in turn pushing earnings up 46% to $714.5 million and leading Biogen ($BIIB) to hike its 2014 guidance to as much as $13.10 a share.

"These are spectacular results, and this is one of the biggest profit beats for Biogen I've seen in years," RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee told Reuters.

Of Tecfidera's top-line haul, $115 million came outside the U.S., following the drug's launch in Europe earlier this year. Schoenebaum said he believes the med is posting launch trajectories similar to its stellar U.S. rollout, despite the company's expectation that a significant head start for Novartis' ($NVS) rival pill Gilenya would slow things down.

"Ex-US sales were a really nice surprise as the company has said the EU launch would be more difficult than the the U.S. launch," he wrote in a note to investors.

But while Tecfidera may be eclipsing Biogen's older MS therapies, the company's stalwarts are still holding their own. Avonex pulled in $498 million--about $36 million more than analysts expected--and Tysabri sales leapt 38%, though the recognition of $54 million in previously deferred revenue helped propel the increase.

Outside the MS arena, Biogen's new, long-lasting hemophilia B product Alprolix made its first appearance in the sales ranks, netting $10 million after nabbing approval in March. That beat the $4 billion estimates analysts had pegged for the drug, according to Schoenebaum's note, and Biogen's pricing strategy may have something to do with it. The company priced its more convenient newcomer on par with older therapies, priming the market for some patient-switching.

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