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Alexion Pharmaceuticals Tops Expectations in Q2

By Keith Speights - Jul 24, 2019 at 3:00PM

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The biotech's rare-disease drugs continued to generate strong sales growth.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) gave investors a lot to like when it announced its first-quarter results in April. Revenue increased by 23% year over year, while adjusted earnings were up by 42%.

The biotech announced its second-quarter results before the market opened on Wednesday. And Alexion again provided plenty of reasons for investors to be happy. Here are the highlights from the company's Q2 update.

Pharmacist filling containers

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Alexion reported Q2 revenue of $1.2 billion. This reflected a 15% increase from the prior-year period's revenue total of $1.04 billion. The consensus among Wall Street analysts was for Q2 revenue of $1.17 billion.

Under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), net income in the second quarter was $459.8 million, or $2.04 per share. The bottom line reflected a significant improvement from the prior-year period GAAP net loss of $457.4 million, or $2.05 per share.

Alexion reported non-GAAP (adjusted) net income of $2.64 per share, up 28% from the adjusted EPS of $2.07 posted in the same period in 2018. This handily beat the average analysts' estimate of $2.34 per share.

Behind the numbers

The solid revenue growth was driven by the successful U.S. launch of Ultomiris in treating the blood disorder paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and by continued strength for the company's top-selling drug, Soliris. Market researcher EvaluatePharma picked Ultomiris as the top new drug launch of 2019. That selection appears to be a good one so far, with the drug raking in $54.2 million in its second quarter on the market. Meanwhile, sales for Soliris climbed 9% year over year to $980.8 million. 

The biotech's other drugs performed well also. Sales for Strensiq increased by 13% year over year to $141.3 million, while sales for Kanuma jumped 22% to $26.2 million.

That year-over-year comparison with Alexion's GAAP net income isn't very helpful. Its net loss in the prior-year period stemmed from its acquisition of Wilson Therapeutics. However, the company's adjusted earnings reflected Alexion's continued improvement on the bottom line, fueled mainly by its impressive revenue growth.

It also has had good news on the regulatory front in recent months. The company won U.S. approval for Soliris in treating neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder and for Ultomiris in treating PNH in Japan and the European Union. The FDA also granted priority review for Ultomiris in treating atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Looking ahead

Alexion now anticipates full-year 2019 revenue to be between $4.75 billion and $4.8 billion, up from its previous guidance range of $4.675 billion to $4.75 billion. The company also projected 2019 GAAP earnings per share to be between $8.13 and $8.41, a big jump from its previous outlook of between $6.76 and $7.96. Non-GAAP EPS for the year is expected to come in between $9.65 and $9.85, higher than its previous guidance of $9.25 to $9.45.

CEO Ludwig Hantson liked what he saw in Q2, saying that Alexion is "well-positioned to continue our momentum in the second half of 2019, strengthening our four durable franchises in hematology and nephrology, neurology, metabolics, and FcRn, advancing and expanding our pipeline, and serving more people living with rare diseases than ever before."

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