Generics could sink AbbVie below analysts' 2015 estimates

AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez

On his company's Q3 conference call back in October, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez told investors the pharma was in an even stronger position today than before it announced its failed $55 billion merger with Ireland's Shire ($SHPG). But with low-cost competitors ready to sink their teeth into the drugmaker's top products, 2015 adjusted earnings may miss analysts' forecasts.

Earnings for the year will reach $4.25 to $4.45 a share, AbbVie ($ABBV) said Thursday. According to Bloomberg, that will hit the low end of analyst estimates that averaged $4.42.

While AbbVie has a lot going for it--including the world's best-selling drug in $11 billion blockbuster Humira--it'll also be facing generic competition for a couple of its key moneymakers. The 1% concentration version of Low T med Androgel will see copycats spring up early this year, and Humira--patent-protected in the U.S. until 2016--already has a biosimilar challenger in India from local drugmaker Zydus Cadila.

The whopper buyout AbbVie and Shire agreed to last summer would have lessened the Abbott ($ABT) spinoff's reliance on its big guns, beefing up its product lineup considerably. But after the U.S. Treasury introduced new, stricter rules on tax inversions, the Illinois pharma called off the deal.

Viekira--Courtesy of AbbVie

Of course, AbbVie could exceed its own projections if it's active on the M&A front--as Gonzalez has said it will be, assuming it can find targets that fit well strategically. And it's expecting big things from its Viekira Pak, a brand new competitor to Gilead's ($GILD) next-gen hep C fighers Sovaldi and Harvoni. Strong commercial execution is a priority for AbbVie this year, Gonzalez said in a statement, and the company says it'll continue to tweak its 2015 guidance as Viekira's launch progresses.

- read the release
- see Bloomberg's take

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