Sure, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' (REGN -1.70%) stock performance in 2019 was anemic. And, yes, heading into its fourth-quarter update the biotech hadn't excited investors so far in 2020.

But Regeneron changed the story when it announced its 2019 fourth-quarter and full-year results before the market opened on Thursday, reporting great results that beat expectations. Here are the highlights from the biotech's Q4 update.

Toy sized shopping cart filled with pills on top of hundred dollar bills

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Regeneron announced Q4 revenue of $2.17 billion, a 13% increase from the $1.9 billion reported in the same quarter of the previous year. Its revenue total also topped the average analysts' revenue estimate of $2.11 billion.

The company reported net income of $792 million, or $6.93 per share, in the fourth quarter based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). However, this was lower than the GAAP earnings of $820 million, or $7.15 per share, recorded in the prior-year period. 

The picture looked better for Regeneron once it made some adjustments to its GAAP numbers related to restructuring, share-based compensation, litigation expenses, and upfront collaboration expenses. The biotech posted adjusted net income in Q4 of $7.50 per share. Not only was this a big jump from adjusted earnings per share of $6.84 reported in the same quarter of 2018, but it also handily beat the consensus Wall Street adjusted earnings estimate of $6.92 per share.

Behind the numbers

Regeneron records sales for three products: eye-disease drug Eylea, cancer drug Libtayo, and autoimmune-disease drug Arcalyst. All three products delivered solid sales growth in the fourth quarter.

Total worldwide sales for Eylea rose 11% year over year to a little over $2 billion. Regeneron, though, records only the U.S. sales for the drug while its partner, Bayer (BAYR.Y -2.05%), records international sales. The biotech's revenue from its collaboration with Bayer totaled $320.8 million in Q4, up 6% year over year.

Sales for Libtayo skyrocketed 405% year over year to $60.5 million. Arcalyst had a tremendous sales increase of 41%, but its sales amount of $3.8 million is only a drop in the bucket for Regeneron.

In addition to these products, Regeneron also reported revenue of $427.1 billion from its collaboration with Sanofi (SNY -1.44%), which was slightly below the $427.6 billion generated in the prior-year period. This revenue includes Regeneron's portion of the sales for Dupixent, Praluent, Kevzara, and Zaltrap.

Looking ahead

Regeneron typically provides its guidance for the next full year with its fourth-quarter updates. However, the company pushed back on giving a full-year 2020 outlook due to its intent to restructure the collaboration agreement with Sanofi for Kevzara and Praluent. Regeneron CFO Robert Landry said that guidance for full-year 2020 would be issued "by no later than the end of the first quarter."

Pipeline progress is perhaps the most important catalyst for biotech stocks. Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer stated, "In 2020, we are focused on driving continued growth with Eylea, Dupixent, and Libtayo and anticipate new regulatory approvals and submissions across our portfolio."

Regeneron has plenty of developments coming in 2020. The company expects to win FDA approval by May 26, 2020 for Dupixent in treating atopic dermatitis. It should report results from a late-stage study of the drug in treating asthma. Regeneron also plans to announce results later this year from clinical studies evaluating Libtayo in non-small-cell lung cancer and basal cell carcinoma, as well as results from clinical studies of new drugs REGN1979, REGN5458, and fasinumab.