Eli Lilly and Company (LLY 0.17%) reported improvements when it announced its fourth-quarter results in February. Revenue increased by 5% year over year while adjusted earnings per share (EPS) were up by 17%.

Investors learned how Eli Lilly performed in the first quarter on Tuesday when the company provided a quarterly update before the market opened. How did Eli Lilly fare? Here's what you need to know about the company's first-quarter results.

physician drawing up a medication from a vial

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Eli Lilly reported revenue in the first quarter of $5.1 billion. This reflected a 3% increase from the prior-year period revenue total of $4.96 billion. The consensus Wall Street analysts' estimate had projected Q1 revenue of $5.22 billion.

On a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) basis, Eli Lilly's net income in the first quarter was $4.24 billion, or $4.31 per share. The company's bottom line reflected a 250% increase from the prior-year period GAAP net income of $1.2 billion, or $1.16 per share.

The company's adjusted non-GAAP net income in the first quarter was $1.24 billion, or $1.33 per share. In the prior-year period, Lilly announced adjusted net income of $1.29 billion, or $1.31 per share. The company's Q1 adjusted EPS was slightly better than the consensus analysts' estimate of $1.32 per share.

Behind the numbers

Probably the best news for Lilly in the first quarter was an exceptionally strong performance for several of its top drugs. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drug Taltz was a huge winner, with sales skyrocketing by 72% to more than $252 million.

There were also several bright spots in Lilly's diabetes franchise. Sales for Trulicity jumped 30% year over year to nearly $880 million. Insulin product Basaglar's sales soared 51% to $251 million. Sales for Jardiance rose 35% to nearly $204 million.

On the other hand, not everything was positive for Lilly. Sales for Cialis fell 38% year over year to $308 million due to generic competition. The company's insulin products Humalog and Humulin also experienced sales declines. Sales for Humalog dropped 8% to just under $731 million, while sales for Humulin slipped 9% to $298 million.

Key developments in Eli Lilly's first quarter include the completed disposition of the company's ownership of the Elanco Animal Health business and completion of the acquisition of Loxo Oncology.

Looking ahead

The company adjusted its full-year 2019 guidance as a result of the disposition of its Elanco business. Eli Lilly now expects full-year revenue between $22 billion and $22.5 billion, down from its previous outlook of 2019 revenue between $25.1 billion and $25.6 billion.

However, Lilly boosted its earnings guidance for 2019. The drugmaker projects GAAP EPS of between $8.57 and $8.67, up from its previous forecast of a range of $4.57 to $4.67. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be between $5.60 and $5.70, up from previous guidance of $5.55 to $5.65.

In addition, CEO David Ricks specifically mentioned the potential 2020 launch of Loxo Oncology's late-stage cancer candidate LOXO-292 as something to look forward to. Investors will also want to watch how Lilly's new migraine drug Emgality performs.