Faltering Eliquis leaves Bristol-Myers' Q2 sales in the lurch

As goes Eliquis, so goes Bristol-Myers Squibb. That's true this quarter anyway, with the company cutting its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts at the same time it announces remarkably weak sales of its new anticoagulant drug.

Eliquis only brought in $12 million for the second quarter--even worse than the disappointing $17 million posted for the first quarter. And this from the blood-clot fighter expected to take the anticoagulant market by storm, not to mention shore up Bristol-Myers' ($BMY) and partner Pfizer's ($PFE) sales for years to come. 

Overall, Bristol-Myers' earnings met Wall Street expectations. But Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez said the "low quality" results depended mostly on a lower-than-expected tax rate. In other words, it wasn't Bristol-Myers' products and operations delivering the goods. As for sales, numbers also matched expectations, but expectations were low--global revenue dropped 9% to just a bit over $4 billion.

Of course, Bristol-Myers is still suffering from plummeting sales of its once top-selling blood thinner, Plavix, which now faces generic competition. But Eliquis was supposed to step in where Plavix left off. A late entry to the warfarin alternative market--after Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Bayer's Xarelto--Eliquis was nonetheless expected to grab market share quickly. Study data fell on its side, with high marks for efficacy and safety.

Perhaps the high expectations made Bristol-Myers and Pfizer complacent. Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Purkiss figures the two companies didn't recognize how much they'd need to invest in promoting Eliquis. And now, Purkiss says, "the Eliquis numbers will trigger quite a few downgrades" of Bristol-Myers stock.

Meanwhile, the new long-acting diabetes drug, Bydureon, fell far short of analyst forecasts with just $66 million in sales. Bristol-Myers and diabetes partner AstraZeneca ($AZN) acquired Bydureon as part of a deal for Amylin Pharmaceuticals last year.

Fernandez called sales of both drugs "disappointing," saying that Eliquis missed his estimates by $13 million. And Bydureon, for its part, lagged the firm's "admittedly high" estimate by $49 million, Fernandez said in a note to investors. The poor performance for both drugs points to challenges for Bristol-Myers' primary-care marketing partnerships, he said.

The company apparently doesn't expect things to kick into gear overnight. It cut its EPS guidance to $1.41 to $1.49, from $1.54 to $1.64. It now expects global sales of $16 billion to $16.5 billion, down from $16.2 billion to $17 billion.

- get the Bristol-Myers release
- read the Reuters news

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