Pfizer cuts its 2022 profit forecast despite strong first-quarter Covid vaccine sales and antiviral sales

Albert Burla, CEO of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, arrived to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

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Pfizer On Tuesday it lowered its 2022 earnings guidance, despite reporting first-quarter results that beat top and bottom lines driven by strong sales of the Covid vaccine and antiviral treatment.

The pharmaceutical giant now expects earnings per share of $6.25 to $6.45 per share for the year, down from its previous forecast 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 still expects $98 billion to $102 billion in total sales for 2022.

Pfizer’s stock is down more than 1% in pre-market trading.

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

Pfizer reported net income of $7.8 billion, an increase of 61% 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 average analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: $1.62 per share vs. $1.47 expected
  • Revenues: $25.66 billion vs. $23.86 billion forecast

Pfizer said booster doses and shots for children have boosted revenue for the Covid vaccine. Sales of Baxlovid were driven by the launch of the antiviral treatment in the United States, which ordered 20 million courses.

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

Baxlovid is an effective treatment for people with 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 had contracted the virus and were at risk of severe disease. However, it failed to prevent infection in the results of separate trials published by Pfizer on Friday.

The Pfizer vaccine is the most widely administered Covid vaccine in the United States and the European Union. In the United States, everyone 5 years of age or older qualifies for a basic series of at least two doses.

Pfizer is providing data to the Food and Drug Administration on its three-dose vaccine for children under age 5, the only remaining age group in the United States that is not yet eligible for an injection. Burla, in an interview via the podcast, said he hopes the pediatric vaccine will get clearance in June. The Food and Drug Administration originally sought approval for the first two doses in February, but Pfizer delayed their application because the data wasn’t good enough. Borla said the third dose should greatly increase the protection of young children.

Pfizer also recently asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a third dose for children ages 5 to 11, the only age group eligible for vaccination who cannot yet receive a booster dose.

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