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Pfizer cuts 2022 earnings outlook despite strong first quarter Covid vaccine and antiviral sales

Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer pharmaceutical company, arrives to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Pfizer on Tuesday cut its 2022 earnings guidance, despite reporting first quarter results that beat on the top and bottom line due to strong Covid vaccine and antiviral sales.

The pharmaceutical giant now expects earnings per share of $6.25 to $6.45 per share for the year, down from its previous outlook of $6.35 to $6.55 per share. Pfizer attributed its lower earnings guidance to research and development costs and changes in foreign exchange rates. However, the company is still projecting $98 billion to $102 billion in total sales for 2022.

Pfizer stock fell more than 1% in premarket trading.

The company’s first quarter revenue grew 77% to more than $25 billion compared to the same period last year, driven by $13.2 billion in Covid vaccine sales in the quarter and $1.5 billion in sales of its oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid.

Pfizer booked a net income of $7.8 billion, a 61% increase over the first quarter of 2021. Adjusted first-quarter earnings grew 72% to $1.62 per share compared to the same period last year.

Here’s how the company performed compared to what Wall Street expected for the first quarter, based on analysts’ average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: $1.62 per share, vs. $1.47 expected
  • Revenue: $25.66 billion, vs. $23.86 billion expected

Pfizer said booster doses and shots for children drove its Covid vaccine revenue in the quarter. Paxlovid sales were driven by the antiviral treatment’s launch U.S., which has ordered 20 million courses. The Food and Drug Administration authorized Paxlovid in December.

Pfizer reaffirmed its full-year 2022 guidance of $32 billion in Covid vaccine sales and $22 billion for Paxlovid. CEO Albert Bourla had told analysts earlier this year that revenue from its antiviral treatment could come in higher because estimates are based only on deals signed or those close  to finalization. 

Paxlovid is an effective treatment for people who have Covid, but it does not prevent infection. Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid by 90% in a clinical trial of adults who caught the virus and were at high risk of developing severe illness. However, it failed to prevent infection in separate trial results published Friday by Pfizer. 

Pfizer’s vaccine is the most administered Covid shot in the U.S. and the European Union. In the U.S., everyone age 5 and older is eligible for at least a primary series of two doses.

Pfizer is submitting data to the FDA on its three-dose vaccine for children under 5 years old, the only age group left in the U.S. that is not yet eligible for a shot. Bourla, in a podcast interview, said he hopes the vaccine for younger kids will receive authorization in June. The FDA had originally sought to authorize the first two doses in February, but Pfizer postponed its application because the data wasn’t good enough. Bourla has said a third dose should significantly increase protection for the youngest children. 

Pfizer also recently asked the FDA to authorize a third dose for children ages 5 to 11, the only age group eligible for vaccination that cannot yet receive a booster shot in the U.S.

CNBC Health & Science

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