Yervoy hits the market with $95M bang

Market watchers expected Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) new cancer drug to be big, but this fast? The company's second-quarter sales left Wall Street estimates in the dust and prompted an increase in profit forecasts, largely thanks to unexpectedly strong sales of the very-recently-approved Yervoy.

Indeed, the melanoma treatment just won the FDA nod in March, and it has already brought in $95 million, Reuters reports. "To come up with nearly $100 million in sales right out of the gate is fantastic," Credit Agricole Securities analyst David Maris, who had projected Yervoy sales of $20 million, told the news service. Peak sales are forecast to hit at as much as $6 billion.

Companywide sales came in at $5.43 billion, well over expectations of $5.04 billion. Nine of its 10 top drugs beat analyst estimates for the quarter, Bloomberg notes. Strong performers included the antipsychotic Abilify, which saw sales rise by 12% to $706 million, and leukemia treatment Sprycel, which boosted sales by 46% to $193 million. Earnings per share were at 56 cents, a penny better than the 55 cents analysts had predicted, but the company raised its forecast by a full 10 cents.

Chuffed by the numbers, and by the potential approval of Bristol's new clot-prevention drug apixaban, Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson told clients, "Bristol-Myers remains hands down the best pipeline story among the U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies we cover. 2011 is likely to be a buy year."

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