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Pfizer’s Q1 profit surges on strong Covid-19 vaccine sales

May 4, 2022
healthcare

Drug maker's net income rose to more than $7.9bn in three months to end of March

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer reported a 61 per cent increase in its first-quarter net profit, underpinned by the strong performance of its vaccine manufacturing arm and hospital unit.

The New York-based company’s net profit rose to nearly $7.9bn in the three months to the end of March, from about $4.9bn in the same period in 2021.

Pfizer's first-quarter revenue jumped nearly 77 per cent yearly to $25.7bn on strong coronavirus vaccine sales, exceeding analysts’ expectations of $23.9bn.

The drug maker said it has sold $13.2bn worth of its Covid-19 vaccines and $1.5bn of its antiviral treatment paxlovid in the three-month period.

Pfizer’s shares were trading about 1 per cent lower at $47.8 a share in premarket trading on Tuesday.

“I am very proud of our performance this quarter, both from a financial perspective and from the standpoint of trying to be a force for good in the world,” said Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer.

“We continue to supply the world with comirnaty [vaccine to prevent coronavirus], which remains a critical tool for helping patients and societies avoid the worst impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Pfizer is on track to deliver at least one billion doses of comirnaty to low- and middle-income countries this year, Mr Bourla said.

Pfizer's adjusted earnings per share rose 72 per cent yearly to $1.6 per share in the quarter, surpassing the expectations of $1.5 a share.

The company predicts its revenue will hover between $98bn and $102bn and adjusted diluted earnings per share will stay between $6.3 and $6.5 in 2022 financial year.

Pfizer expects to sell $32bn worth of Covid-19 shots and $22bn worth of paxlovid this year.

Paxlovid is a treatment for Covid-19 patients, but it does not prevent infection. It was found to reduce the risk of hospital admission or death from the virus by 90 per cent in a clinical trial of adults.

“We are delivering on our production commitments for paxlovid, which is already having a profound impact on the lives of patients,” Mr Bourla said.

Unlike many companies that have discontinued operations in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, Pfizer has continued to supply medicines to the country. However, the company said it is donating all profits from its Russian subsidiary to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

All units of Pfizer delivered good growth in the first quarter, with the exception of its internal medicine arm and the inflammation and immunology department.

Its vaccine-manufacturing division accounted for more than 58.2 per cent of overall revenue as sales jumped 205.3 per cent year-on-year to over $14.9bn in the first quarter.

The company’s hospital unit contributed almost $3.2bn in sales, about 69 per cent more than in the same period of 2021. Revenue from the oncology unit increased by almost 4 per cent on an annual basis to about $3bn.

Its rare disease departments added more than $963 million in sales, a yearly increase of 17 per cent.

Pfizer’s internal medicine unit sales dropped 6 per cent to almost $2.4bn in the three-month period, while the inflammation and immunology department posted a 23 per cent drop to $821m.

During the first three months of the year, Pfizer returned $4.2bn to shareholders through a combination of $2.2bn in cash dividends and $2bn that was used to repurchase 39.1 million shares in March.

As of Tuesday, Pfizer’s remaining share repurchase authorisation is $3.3bn but the current financial guidance does reflect any additional share repurchases this year.

“We will continue to thoughtfully deploy our capital in a variety of shareholder-friendly ways with the goal of maximising the value we provide to all of our stakeholders, including patients and shareholders,” said Frank D’Amelio, Pfizer's chief financial officer and executive vice president.

Pfizer spent more than $2.3bn on research and development — nearly 9 per cent of its total sales — in the January to March period, 15.4 per cent more than the R&D expenditure in the same period last year.

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