Pfizer vaccines come through again, beating analyst forecasts

Pfizer sign
Pfizer sign

Pfizer’s ($PFE) Prevnar is turning out to be more than a protection against pneumococcal disease. It is a pretty good protection for Pfizer earnings as well, coming through again in the first quarter to help the New York company blow past analyst earnings projections.

Pfizer reported today that global vaccine sales were up 18%, driven again by the Prevnar family of vaccines. They brought in $1.51 billion in Q1 compared with the $1.4 billion analysts thought they would generate.

The Q1 vaccines sales kept up the momentum for the unit after increases of 45% in Q4 2015 and full-year 2015 growth of 44%. Those numbers, however, were largely driven by the CDC's decision in 2014 to recommend the shot in adults over 65, and Pfizer CFO Frank D'Amelio has cautioned that sales for the pneumococcal disease blocker franchise are expected to be flat in 2016.

Still, the fact that vaccine sales were up in Q1 to $1.57 billion was particularly good news for the company on the heels of its failed $160 billion merger with Allergan. After the deal was killed in April by U.S. Treasury rule changes aimed at tax-avoiding inversions, market research firm Kalorama predicted that Pfizer will need to lean harder on its vax unit for a while.

Even before the death of the Allergan deal, Pfizer was making moves to broaden its vaccines business beyond the Prevnar portfolio. In 2014 and 2015, Pfizer purchased Baxter's marketed vaccines portfolio for $635 million, Switzerland's RedVax for an undisclosed sum and two GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) meningitis ACWY vaccines for $130 million. In addition to M&A, the outfit is developing vaccines against S. aureus and C. diff; it also unveiled a cancer vaccines platform last summer as part of a "comprehensive" vaccine approach.

- here’s the earnings release

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