World News

New drugs contribute to AbbVie’s upbeat 2020 view; shares hit year-high

By Tamara Mathias and Manas Mishra

(Reuters) – AbbVie Inc <ABBV.N> on Friday forecast full-year earnings well above Wall Street estimates, as the U.S. drugmaker looks to new treatments and its pending acquisition of Allergan Plc <AGN.N> to drive growth beyond 2023, when its cash cow Humira loses patent protection.

AbbVie said it expects 2020 adjusted earnings of $9.61 to $9.71 per share, above analysts’ estimates of $9.48. Its shares rose 5.7% to $92.19, hitting their highest level in a year.

The profit forecast excludes any impact from the pending $63 billion Allergan deal, which is expected to close in the current quarter.

The company is eyeing expanded approvals for its new psoriasis drug Skyrizi and rheumatoid arthritis treatment Rinvoq, both of which AbbVie said have had “strong” launches.

AbbVie forecast that the two drugs will bring in combined revenue of about $1.70 billion in 2020, still less than 9% of expected Humira sales, as it maintains its position as the world’s top-selling prescription medicine.

Investors have long fretted about the company’s dependence on Humira.

AbbVie is hoping to maintain its leadership position in the $70 billion global immunology market dominated by Humira, which treats both rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, as well as several related autoimmune conditions.

“Together, we expect Skyrizi and Rinvoq to have full coverage across the major disease areas for which Humira is currently approved, plus new areas, such as atopic dermatitis,” AbbVie President Michael Severino said on a conference call.

AbbVie is also counting on the addition of wrinkle treatment Botox from Allergan, and other products in development to cushion the expected revenue drop after Humira loses U.S. patent protection.

Meanwhile Humira, despite stiff competition, had fourth-quarter sales of $4.92 billion, exceeding analysts’ expectations of $4.85 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Skyrizi brought in sales of $216 million, topping estimates of about $142 million. Rinvoq had sales of $33 million in its first full quarter on the market.

“While AbbVie is seeking to shine light on its early stage pipeline, we anticipate the performance of the stock will be heavily tied to ongoing Skyrizi and Rinvoq rollouts,” said Citi analyst Andrew Baum.

He also expects investors to focus on delivery of promised savings from the Allergan deal.

Excluding items, AbbVie earned $2.21 per share in the fourth quarter, edging past expectations by 2 cents.

Revenue rose 4.8% to $8.70 billion, in line with the average analysts’ estimate of $8.69 billion.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru, Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Bill Berkrot)