Eli Lilly trots out rosy 2022 projections, sees recent launches driving two-thirds of its business

Eli Lilly said happy holidays to its shareholders on Wednesday morning, bumping up its revenue projections for this year and next. While the top-line numbers bested analyst expectations, the company also offered details about its expectations for recent launches and late-stage pipeline meds.

Fueled primarily by approximate sales of $2.1 billion for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail, Lilly upped its projected revenue for this year to a range of $28 to $28.3 billion. The company’s previous guidance, issued along with its third-quarter earnings report, was between $27.2 to $27.6 billion.

The projections show the upward trajectory of the company through the pandemic. Lilly’s revenue figures for the last two years were $22.3 billion and $24.5 billion, respectively.

As for 2022, Lilly projects revenue to come out between $27.8 and $28.3 billion. That projection “exceeded our expectations and FactSet consensus,” analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald wrote in a note to clients.

The company projects that its "key growth products," a suite of medicines that have launched since 2014, will deliver two-thirds of its core business sales in 2022. That figure excludes contributions from COVID-19 antibodies. Those medicines, plus potential new launches, will allow the company to "deliver top-tier, volume-driven revenue growth through at least 2030," CFO Anat Ashkenazi said in a statement. 

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Along with the guidance release, the company is hosting an investor event in New York to discuss its pipeline. 

“We’ve driven results over the last four years, successfully launched new medicines, and invested in high-impact R&D that has set us up for a truly exciting new era," Lilly CEO David Ricks said in a statement.

That era includes the expected launch of five new drugs, including anticipated Alzheimer’s disease drug donanemab and type 2 diabetes/weight-loss drug tirzepatide. On Tuesday, the company reported positive data on ulcerative colitis drug mirikizumab and its plan to submit applications to regulators in the first half of next year.

The launches would put Lilly on track to meet its goal of launching 20 new drugs from 2014 to 2023, it said. The count since 2014 is 16 new treatments.

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Cantor Fitzgerald sees several catalysts that could affect stock moves for Lilly in 2022. They include potential drug pricing changes in the upcoming Build Back Better Act and the FDA approvals of tirzepatide and donanemab, plus the national coverage determination for all Alzheimer’s drugs.

Also affecting donanemab is a head-to-head trial of the drug versus Biogen’s Aduhelm. Additionally, tests of other plaque-reduction drugs from Roche and Eisai could help shape the future possibilities for donanemab, the analysts said.