Biogen Idec's Profit Soars 56% as Tecfidera Sales Take Off

Biopharmaceutical behemoth Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB  ) showed investors this morning why having a niche focus on one particular disease -- in this case multiple sclerosis -- isn't a bad way to turn a sizable profit.

In its fourth-quarter earnings release, Biogen Idec notes that revenue rose a whopping 39% over the previous year to $1.97 billion as profit soared 56% to an adjusted $1.92 per share from the $1.23 reported in the year-ago period.

Without question, the story of this earnings report is the continued outperformance of oral relapsing MS treatment Tecfidera, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last March. For the quarter, Tecfidera sales totaled $398 million (handily making it the best-selling oral MS therapy), of which $42 million is estimated by Biogen Idec to be stockpiling toward the end of the quarter. With sales totaling $876 million within the first three quarters Tecfidera appears well on its way to blockbuster status.

The remainder of Biogen's MS franchise demonstrated more modest growth, with Avonex sales flat at $751 million and Tysabri revenue up 45% due in part to Biogen's now full global ownership rights to the treatment, which it bought from Elan for $3.25 billion last year. Overall sales of Tysabri struggled to gain traction as a dispute with the Italian National Medicines Agency relating to Tysabri was not settled during the fourth quarter as expected.

Biogen Idec also spent a considerable amount of time in its report talking about its upcoming milestones in 2014, which include the expectation of bringing three new drugs to market: two new hemophilia treatments (eloctate and alprolix) and a pegylated interferon treatment for MS.

Looking ahead, Biogen Idec is forecasting 2014 full-year revenue growth of 22% to 25%, which would imply $8.45 billion to $8.66 billion in revenue, and adjusted EPS ranging from $11 to $11.20 per share, a nice improvement from the adjusted $7.81 reported last year. Biogen anticipates research and development expenses will rise 20% to 22% in 2014 with $200 million being earmarked for new business-development deals.

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