Opdivo, Eliquis pump up Bristol-Myers' Q1, and its 2016 forecast, too


It was good to be Bristol-Myers Squibb in the first quarter.

The New Jersey pharma giant came up with monster sales for Q1, posting a top-line haul of $4.39 billion to surpass analysts’ $4.27 billion expectations. In turn, EPS also beat out forecasts, coming in at 74 cents to best 65-cent consensus estimates by 14%.

That showing put the company’s guidance on the rise, too. Bristol-Myers ($BMY) now expects low double-digit growth in revenue for 2016, an improvement on the mid-single-digit increase it predicted earlier. And EPS should check in between $2.50 and $2.60 for the year, up from its earlier prediction of $2.30 to $2.40.

So how did BMS get there? It started with high-flying immuno-oncology med Opdivo, which generated $704 million for the quarter to knock aside expectations of $587 million, Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum wrote in a note to clients. More than $1 million of that beat came from its performance in the U.S., where it raked in $594 million to squash $489.1 million expectations.

BMS has taken the oncology field by storm since first launching the newcomer in melanoma. The product--up against Merck ($MRK) competitor Keytruda--now also boasts indications in non-small-cell lung cancer and kidney cancer, and it recently posted strong data in head and neck cancer, its next frontier.

But Bristol-Myers got a big boost from drugs outside its oncology portfolio, too. For one, Eliquis--a next-gen anticoagulant it shares with Pfizer ($PFE)--landed $734 million in quarterly sales. That’s a far cry from the paltry $146 million it posted in all of 2013, and it also shattered Wall Street estimates of $622.6 million. Since rebounding from the slow start, Eliquis has been giving rivals Pradaxa from Boehringer Ingelheim and Xarelto from Bayer and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) a run for their money, and BMS execs said earlier this year that they expect their med to overtake them both.

Even hep C revenues, for which BMS “has continuously cautioned for a slow-down,” surprised the Street, ringing up at $427 million versus a consensus of $412 million, Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote in a note to investors. “This franchise continues to hold on relatively well” despite hefty competition from companies including Gilead ($GILD) and AbbVie ($ABBV), he said.

But while the drugmaker may be sitting pretty now, it can’t let up in any of those crowded areas if it wants to retain its slice of the pie--especially immuno-oncology, Anderson noted.

BMS “certainly dominates the I/O landscape in the nearer-term, but given the relatively compressed timelines in I/O, with various competitors like Merck, Roche and AstraZeneca not being too far behind, how market shares settle out over the long term remains difficult to forecast accurately,” he wrote.

- read the release 

Special Report: The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Bristol-Myers Squibb

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