As it prepares to be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) continued its solid performance, racking up double-digit sales growth in the first quarter.

Celgene results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q1 2019

Q1 2018

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$4.025 billion

$3.538 billion

14%

Income from operations

$1.710 billion

$218 million

684%

Earnings per share (EPS)

$2.14

$1.10

95%

Adjusted EPS

$2.55

$2.05

24%

Data source: Celgene.

What happened with Celgene this quarter?

  • Driving most of the growth, sales of Celgene's top-selling blood-cancer drug Revlimid jumped 15% year over year.
  • Sales of its other important blood-cancer drug, Pomalyst, which goes by Imnovid in some markets, increased 23% year over year, driven by a 30% increase in U.S. sales. International sales increased a respectable 9% year over year.
  • Anti-inflammatory Otezla saw sales increase 10%, driven by international sales of 14%, while U.S. sales increased 9% year over year.
  • Sales of Abraxane, which treats solid tumors, increased 9% year over year; U.S. sales were up 23% year over year.
  • On the pipeline front, earlier this month, Celgene and its partner Acceleron Pharma (NASDAQ:XLRN) submitted a marketing application to the Food and Drug Administration for luspatercept, for a group of blood cancers called myelodysplastic syndromes. Celgene also submitted marketing applications for the multiple sclerosis drug ozanimod in the U.S. (again!) and the EU.
  • The year-ago quarter included a large acquisition expense, so non-GAAP earnings are a better measure of the company's year-over-year performance.
Doctor showing a report to a patient in a hospital bed

Image source: Getty Images.

What management had to say

Management didn't hold a conference call in association with the first-quarter results. But in the press release, Celgene's CEO Mark Alles noted that the company's "excellent operating performance continues to generate positive momentum into the expected closing of the Bristol-Myers Squibb transaction during the third quarter of 2019."

Looking forward

The company reaffirmed its guidance for 2019 product sales and earnings.

On the pipeline front, investors should look for clinical-trial data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in June -- for iberdomide in patients with multiple myeloma, liso-cel in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and Abraxane in patients with pancreatic cancer. An FDA approval for fedratinib in patients with myelofibrosis is expected by the beginning of September.