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What You Need to Know About Pfizer's Q1 Earnings Beat

By Keith Speights – Apr 30, 2019 at 1:00PM

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The big drugmaker exceeded expectations in Q1 on both the top and bottom lines.

The last time Pfizer (PFE 0.32%) announced its quarterly results, there were some positives for investors despite a disappointing full-year 2019 outlook. Revenue increased 2% year over year while earnings were up by 3%.

Pfizer announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Tuesday. This time around, there were plenty of tidbits for investors to like. Here are the highlights from Pfizer's Q1 update.

cupped hands holding pills

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Pfizer reported first-quarter revenue of $13.1 billion. This reflected a 2% increase from the prior-year period's revenue total of $12.9 billion. Wall Street analysts, on average, projected Q1 revenue of $12.99 billion.

The company announced GAAP net income of $3.9 billion, or $0.68 per share, in the first quarter. This marked a 9% increase from $3.6 billion, or $0.59 per share, reported in the same quarter of 2018.

Pfizer's adjusted net income in the first quarter was $4.9 billion, or $0.85 per share. This was an improvement over the company's result in the prior-year period, when Pfizer announced net income of $4.6 billion, or $0.75 per share. It was also better than the consensus analysts' adjusted earnings estimate of $0.75 per share.

Behind the numbers

As investors have come to expect, Pfizer's Q1 results were driven largely by its biopharma segment's top blockbuster drugs. Sales of anticoagulant Eliquis jumped 32% year over year to $1 billion. Breast cancer drug Ibrance's sales increased by 25% to $1.1 billion. Pfizer's top-selling Prevnar 13 pneumococcal vaccine also performed well, with sales climbing 10% year over year to nearly $1.5 billion.

The company's hospital business continued to struggle, however, with sales falling 7% year over year to $1.9 billion. Pfizer's Upjohn segment, which includes older legacy drugs and generic drugs, didn't have too bad of a performance. The segment's total revenue slipped by 1% year over year. Solid gains for Lipitor, Norvasc, and Celebrex largely offset declining sales for Lyrica and Viagra. Upjohn's sales growth in China was a big plus.

Pfizer's consumer healthcare segment also faced headwinds. Revenue for the segment dropped 5% year over year to $858 million. However, part of the problem was the negative impact of currency fluctuations, which pulled revenue growth down by 3%. The good news for the company's consumer business was that international sales grew by 4% operationally. 

Looking ahead

Pfizer projects sales for full-year 2019 will come between $52 billion and $54 billion, consistent with its earlier outlook. However, the company boosted its full-year adjusted earnings per share (EPS) guidance. Pfizer now expects adjusted EPS between $2.83 and $2.93, a $0.01 increase at the midpoint of the range from its previous outlook.

Perhaps the most important thing for investors to watch was the impact of Pfizer's recent regulatory approvals. The company received five regulatory approvals in the first quarter. It also expects to receive several U.S. regulatory approvals in 2019, including tafamidis in transthyretin cardiomyopathy; the Bavencio-Inlyta combo in first-line renal cell carcinoma; and biosimilars to Avastin, Humira, and Rituxan. 

Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO, is enthusiastic for what the remainder of the year holds. He says that the company will "remain focused on executing on our commercial strategies, managing expenses, advancing our pipeline and prudently allocating our capital to position Pfizer for sustainable success."

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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