Biogen sales, profit miss the mark as Tecfidera flags

Remember the days when Biogen's ($BIIB) Tecfidera was trumping analyst expectation after analyst expectation? Well, they're in the past--at least for now.

Friday, the biotech reported slowing sales of its launch superstar, which posted lower-than-expected first-quarter sales of $824.9 million. That missed Wall Street's $941 million prediction for the multiple sclerosis med, according to Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum, and if Tecfidera's U.S. trajectory doesn't shape up, the company's revenue growth may hit at the lower end of its forecast, too, Chief Financial Officer Paul Clancy told Reuters.

It's not something investors are used to hearing. After winning FDA approval just over two years ago, Tecfidera stormed out of the gate and didn't look back. This time last year, the company was announcing a 50% revenue leap thanks to the drug's standout performance.

This time around, the Massachusetts company attributed the tough Tecfidera quarter to a number of factors--many of which, such as discounts and the number of shipping weeks--were one-time issues, Schoenebaum noted. But some of them--like a slowing growth and switch rate for the MS market--could continue to plague the treatment in the future.

Overall, the Tecfidera sales miss helped peg total revenue at $2.56 billion, falling short of the $2.65 billion analysts forecast. Fellow MS treatment Tysabri also missed its mark, despite growing its Q1 sales haul to $462.6 million from last year's $441 million.

Investors were less than thrilled with the performance, and shares sank as much as 8% Friday following the announcement. And with some of its pipeline hopes riding on a candidate for Alzheimer's--a malady that's traditionally confounded drugmakers--the patience for some analysts is wearing thin.

But despite the lack of an "obvious program emerging to anchor around" as Tecfidera flags, Piper Jaffrey analyst Joshua Schimmer told Reuters he's cutting the company some slack.

"We'll still give the team time to turn things around," he said.

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