First-quarter earnings update, with the newest from Allergan, Valeant and more

Every quarter, the FiercePharma team analyzes biopharma earnings reports and investor calls, and so far, the first quarter is a mixed bag. Top Pfizer drugs fell short, putting M&A questions front-and-center. Regeneron's Eylea sales didn't hit, either, pressuring new launch Dupixent. But Novo Nordisk, which has been struggling with payer pressures, got a boost from one new PBM contract and beat estimates for Q1. You get the picture.

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Anyone who tuned into Allergan’s Q1 earnings call hoping for signs of big M&A to come likely left disappointed. CEO Brent Saunders, as he has repeatedly over the past year, emphasized Allergan's commitment to smaller, “stepping-stone deals”—but this time, he went a step further, adding that "the odds of us doing large M&A, I think, are very low.” The company, meanwhile, beat sales and earnings expectations and raised its guidance, with newly pressured Restasis topping forecasts. News

Faced with a crippling pile of debt, Valeant on Tuesday slightly increased its 2017 earnings guidance, one small positive development as it works to rebound from its noted downfall. The Canadian drugmaker reported first-quarter revenues of $2.11 billion on Tuesday, missing FactSet consensus estimates of $2.19. But the company sees things going well enough to increase its 2017 earnings guidance to between $3.6 and $3.75 billion, slightly increased from a previous range of $3.55 billion to $3.7 billion. News

With Regeneron's Dupixent approval still new—and success uncertain—investors remain focused on its flagship blockbuster, Eylea. And judging from the company's first-quarter earnings report, they may have reason to be concerned. Eylea sales increased 9% in the U.S. to $854 million, helping drive total revenues up 10% to $1.3 billion. But Eylea still came in below analysts’ estimates, per-share earnings fell short of the average analyst estimate. News

Gilead's hep C sales continued to crash in the first quarter, falling 50% to $2.3 billion. With the results, the company faced familiar questions about dealmaking. This time around, Gilead has a new exec to help with scouting in oncology, an area Milligan said remains a focus. The team is also not fazed by ongoing political uncertainty in Washington, the helmsman told analysts. Story

Novo Nordisk executives pointed to one-time drivers to partially explain why sales of its diabetes medication Victoza went up. Management “tempered enthusiasm” during the company’s earnings call, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal said in a Wednesday note; inventory-building gave some oomph to first-quarter sales, and that’s an effect likely to reverse itself, execs said. Story

Is Pfizer thinking of buying Bristol-Myers Squibb, as the rumors go? CEO Ian Read hinted at the possibility on Tuesday's first-quarter earnings call. And the way Goldman Sachs analyst Jami Rubin sees things, dealmaking is all the more important in light of Pfizer’s first quarter, which saw some key meds fall short. Rubin pointed in particular to Xtandi, whose $131 million in sales is “clearly weak given [Pfizer] paid $14 billion for this asset,” and Xeljanz, which came in $38 million behind consensus. The misses raised “concerns about Pfizer’s ability to grown in the absence of M&A in our view.” Story

Merck & Co. is the victim of its own success, judging from its first-quarter report. The company beat sales and earnings estimates, and it upped its guidance for the year, despite some significant suffering from generic competition. Sales of its hit immuno-oncology drug Keytruda skyrocketed 134% to $584 million during the quarter. But that wasn’t good enough for analysts, who were expecting even more from Keytruda—and pressed R&D chief Roger Perlmutter accordingly. Report 

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt has been criticized for failing to pull off a couple of big acquisitions, but his more mundane deal to get Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer health business has paid off. It helped the French drugmaker overcome continuing hits to its diabetes franchise and turn in a surprisingly strong first quarter. Story

Sanofi’s vaccines business leaned on strong performances from pediatric, flu and travel shots on the way to 13.2% growth in the first quarter—because it certainly couldn't depend on the foundering dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. News

GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines unit maintained its momentum in the first quarter with 16% growth, thanks to standout sales from meningitis shots picked up in its Novartis deal. And a new plant and forthcoming launch could keep the growth coming. Former Novartis vaccines Bexsero and Menveo grew 79% and 17% in the first quarter, respectively, as GSK moves to make the most out of its decision to bet on vaccines. Article

Bristol-Myers Squibb walked back its 2017 guidance last quarter, in a move some industry watchers attributed to immuno-oncology star Opdivo and its recent setbacks. The first quarter turned that trend right around. Street-beating Opdivo sales of $1.13 billion—which blew past $988 million estimates—helped the New Jersey drugmaker come in ahead overall on the revenue front. It posted a top-line haul of $4.93 billion, well ahead of the $4.75 billion analysts expected. Story

AstraZeneca’s castoff strategy has raised eyebrows, but it helped drive another earnings beat for the lacking-in-sales drugmaker to kick off the year. And this time, it was a big one. Sell-off revenue of $562 million—which made up 10% of AstraZeneca’s $5.41 billion top-line haul—pushed core earnings to 99 cents per share, good for an outperformance of 18 cents. Of course, the company won’t necessarily be able to keep up that clip, and with sales falling short—even among AZ's so-called growth products—the questions about its offloading moves are likely to continue. News

AbbVie investors were jittery late last year as its mega-blockbuster Humira kept missing sales expectations overseas, especially when the drug came up against competitive pressure from a new biosimilar. So, investors were relieved when the company announced first-quarter results that exceeded its own forecasts, driven largely by a 15% increase in global Humira sales. Report

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Amgen needs a deal: Its blockbuster Enbrel took a $200 million-plus hit in the first quarter, helping drag the big biotech's overall sales down by 8%, to $5.46 billion. Repatha, its new PCSK9 med, came in below expectations, and its multiple myeloma med Kyprolis and Vectibix also fell short. But a 13% cut to R&D spending boosted margins. "[W]e see the company more than ever in need of, and possibly preparing for, a significant acquisition," Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges wrote. Release

Roche totted up a sales increase, thanks to strong growth from its newer cancer meds. Breast cancer duo Perjeta and Kadcyla steamed ahead to 746 million Swiss francs between them, beating estimates and partly offsetting a decline for aging colorectal cancer therapy Avastin. Meanwhile, immuno-oncology treatment Tecentriq doubled sales to 113 million Swiss francs. Overall, pharma sales rose by 3% in constant currencies to 10.17 billion francs, despite a 26% decline for Tamiflu. Group sales hit 12.94 billion francs, up 4%. Release

Bayer turned in €13.2 billion in first-quarter sales, a 9.4% increase over the same period last year. Of that amount, life sciences sales were approximately €9.7 billion, with pharma growing 7.4% during the quarter. Release

Celgene grew net sales 18% in the first quarter to $2.95 billion, with the big-selling Revlimid jumping 20% on the period to $1.9 billion. The big biotech is bumping up its 2017 EPS guidance to $5.95 to $6.29, up from a previous projection of $5.85 to $6.21. Release

If any GlaxoSmithKline investors were hoping new CEO Emma Walmsley would break with her predecessor and pursue a split-up, they got a rude awakening on Wednesday. On the company’s first-quarter conference call, she echoed the sentiments of previous skipper Andrew Witty, insisting that there are benefits to “being a three-business healthcare company” comprising pharma, vaccines and consumer health. News

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos, facing stepped-up competition for the company's critical multiple sclerosis business, contends it's “ready and well-equipped” to forge ahead. And that includes "value-based and innovative contracting" with payers, the helmsman told analysts on Tuesday. Biogen turned in $2.8 billion in first-quarter revenues, a 3% increase over last year. Story

Eli Lilly stunned investors less than two weeks ago with unexpected bad news about its highly anticipated rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib, spurned by the FDA even after the company was given three extra months to address safety concerns. And that news, of course, followed the high-profile failure of Lilly’s phase 3 Alzheimer’s drug solanezumab. So investors were in the mood for some good news—and they got a bit of it in Lilly’s first-quarter earnings report, even as concerns about the company’s pipeline cast a cloud over the numbers. Article

Novartis put up some surprising numbers Tuesday, leading analysts to suggest the worst may be behind the company.  Bernstein’s Tim Anderson, for one, pointed to “decent growth,” even for the struggling eye unit Alcon, which expanded (by 1% in constant currencies) for the first time since 2015’s second quarter. Generics unit Sandoz managed to eke out 1% growth, too, despite the price erosion plaguing the sector. With those units under control, it was up to Novartis’ new pharma products to deliver—and they did, helping the Swiss drugmaker meet quarterly sales expectations with a haul of $11.54 billion. Coverage

Johnson & Johnson missed analyst expectations on pharma and consumer health sales in the first quarter as some of its stalwart performers shrank instead of grew. One bit of good news? Remicade is holding its own against Pfizer's new biosim rival, Inflectra. J&J brought in $17.8 billion in first-quarter revenues, a 1.6% increase over 2016. Story