Prevnar, Eliquis help Pfizer beat forecasts even as it trims 2015 guidance

Pfizer CEO Ian Read

Pfizer ($PFE) may have had to whittle down its full-year revenue and profit forecasts on Tuesday on account of a stronger dollar. But as far as Q1 goes, the drugmaker churned out hauls in both categories that topped Wall Street's expectations.

Non-GAAP EPS hit 51 cents for the quarter, the company said, higher than the 49 cents analysts forecast. Revenue reached $10.86 billion to beat out a consensus prediction of $10.73 billion, according to Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum.

Going forward, it expects 2015 EPS to land between $1.95 and $2.05--down from its previous guidance of $2 to $2.10--and revenue to hit in the $44 billion to $46 billion range.

Pfizer has its vaccine heavyweight Prevnar 13 to thank for the revenue beat, with the jab's U.S. sales recording a leap of 80%. Already the world's best-selling vaccine, Prevnar sales are ramping up after a CDC committee last year made a key recommendation for universal use in adults over 65--a nod analysts predicted could add $2 billion to the vaccine's top-line tally.

But Prevnar didn't do it alone. Recent launches chipped in, too--including Eliquis, which once upon a time let analysts down with a slow start in the market for next-gen clot-fighters. Now, Eliquis--which Pfizer shares with Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY)--ranks as the No. 1 oral anticoagulant prescribed by cardiologist for new-to-brand patients in the U.S. and Japan, CEO Ian Read told investors on a conference call.

The Pfizer chief also said he's "extremely pleased" with the performance of cancer drug Ibrance, which won a quick FDA approval in February. It, too, topped analyst estimates, posting $38 million in sales to the $35 million they were looking for--and helping offset the losses driven by last year's Celebrex patent expiration, for one.

As per usual, Read and Co. touched on both M&A and the company's prospects of moving forward with its tried-and-true slim-down strategy--noting once again that they could be intertwined. If buying assets to beef up one or more of the company's three operating units pre-spinoff makes sense, then "we will execute that," Read told investors.

But until he sees how Pfizer's pipeline develops, what pickups transpire and whether the Street values parts of Pfizer differently than the whole, he won't be calling any shots, he said--meaning industry watchers will have to wait until at least the latter part of 2016 to see which, if any, unit is next on the divestment list.

Meanwhile, though, in regards to dealmaking, Read said Pfizer was "agnostic" to the size of a transaction as long as it moved the needle and brought value for shareholders. So far, its recent Hospira ($HSP) pickup--a pact Pfizer expects to close in the second half of this year--seems poised to do just that: The Illinois drugmaker Tuesday trounced Q1 projections with profit of $75.6 million and revenue of $1.17 billion.

- read Pfizer's release
- get more on Hospira's Q1 from FiercePharmaManufacturing

Special Reports: The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Pfizer | Top 10 best-selling vaccines of 2013

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