'Poor' Humira performance triggers Q3 sales miss for AbbVie, but SG&A beat keeps EPS in line

Humira

For the third quarter, AbbVie bested analyst expectations in several areas. There was just one problem: The company missed on revenue, and specifically on revenue for closely watched behemoth Humira.

AbbVie’s top-line haul checked in at $6.39 billion, falling $173 million short of consensus estimates. And the company’s top seller was a big reason for the gap, with U.S. sales of $2.65 million underperforming expectations by $107 million--and ex-U.S. sales missing slightly, too.

That kind of Humira performance--which Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan termed "poor"--isn’t exactly what investors were looking for following last month’s FDA approval of Amgen’s biosimilar, Amjevita. While it'll still be a long time before the Big Biotech can launch its copy, the Q3 showing "adds a negative data point to the debate around the longer-term durability of Humira,” he wrote in a Friday note to clients.

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AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez, though, downplayed the blip on the company’s conference call, promising that “this brand continues to grow extremely well--and the vast majority of that growth is volume.”

In the drug’s three major market segments, Humira is standing its ground despite increasing competition from next-gen meds and biosimilars of its anti-TNF rivals. The product still holds the No. 1 market share position in both rheumatology and dermatology, and it’s seeing double-digit volume growth in GI, Gonzalez said.

And in the non-Humira category, AbbVie did actually see some sales beats--including a big one from blood-cancer med Imbruvica, the drug that prompted the Illinois drugmaker to shell out a whopping $21 billion last year to buy maker Pharmacyclics. The oncology star brought in $501 million for Q3, topping the expected $482 million.

On top of that, AbbVie’s sales miss “was more than offset” by an SG&A beat of about $150 million, an R&D beat of about $50 million, and a tax beat of about $100 million, Evercore ISI analyst John Scotti wrote in his own investor note Friday. The result was an EPS mark of $121 that came in one cent above consensus.

- read AbbVie's release

Related Articles:
Amgen's Humira biosim, Amjevita, passes FDA milestone on long road to market
Humira's 17% leap fuels AbbVie Q2 beats
AbbVie's Humira bails out Viekira to keep Q1 sales in line
Strong Q4 showings for AbbVie abroad offset Humira, Viekira stumbles at home
Humira gives AbbVie solid Q3 support, but biosimilars loom
AbbVie paid a 'lofty,' 'staggering,' 'astronomical' price for Pharmacyclics. But was it too much?
Humira biosimilars will gut AbbVie's sales in 3 years, analyst says

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