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After Its Strong First-Quarter Results, Should You Buy Shares of Eli Lilly?

By Prosper Junior Bakiny – Updated May 6, 2020 at 11:32AM

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The company expects its financial results to get a boost as a result of the ongoing outbreak.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are struggling financially. With reduced foot traffic and lower sales volumes in stores as a result of social distancing measures, some companies will likely never fully recover. However, other companies have benefited from the current situation, one of which is Eli Lilly (LLY -1.23%).

The pharma giant reported its first-quarter financial results on April 23 and said the following, "Worldwide volume growth in the first quarter of 2020 was favorably impacted by increased customer buying patterns and patient prescription trends resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that increased worldwide revenue by approximately $250 million." Eli Lilly even revised its guidance upward for the current fiscal year; the company previously expected its non-GAAP earnings per share (EPS) for 2020 to be in the range of $6.70 to $6.80, but now expects a range between $6.70 to $6.90.

With the ongoing public health crisis having a positive impact on its financial results, is now a good time to buy shares of Eli Lilly? 

Two pharmacists hold a bottle and discuss

Image Source: Getty Images

Eli Lilly's lineup is strong

It is easy to get caught up in the fact that Eli Lilly benefited from abnormal buying patterns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the first quarter. Even putting that aside, many of the company's top products had been performing well long before the coronavirus crisis. For instance, diabetes medicine Trulicity recorded revenue of $1.2 billion during the first quarter, representing a 40% year-over-year increase. During the fourth quarter, Eli Lilly generated about $1.2 billion in revenue from Trulicity, a 31% increase compared to the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2018.

Another diabetes medicine, Jardiance, recorded revenue of $267.5 million during the first quarter, increasing by 31% year over year. Jardiance's revenue during the fourth quarter increased by 39% year over year to $268 million. Other strong performers include insulin product Basaglar, which had revenue for the first quarter of $303.7 million, compared to $251.4 million recorded during the first quarter of 2019, representing a 21% increase compared to the year-ago period. During the fourth quarter, Basaglar's revenue jumped by 32% to $307.2 million.

Further, plaque psoriasis treatment Taltz recorded revenue of $443.5 million during the first quarter, a whopping 76% year-over-year increase. Taltz's revenue grew by 37% to $420.1 million during the fourth quarter. In addition to its already robust lineup of products, Eli Lilly acquired Dermira in January -- a dermatology-focused biopharmaceutical company -- in an all-cash transaction valued at about $1.1 billion. This acquisition strengthened Eli Lilly's lineup with products such as Qbrexza, a treatment for excessive underarm sweating.

In short, Eli Lilly's portfolio of products should help the company deliver healthy revenue and earnings for the foreseeable future.

Pipeline offers growth prospects for the future

In addition to its strong lineup, Eli Lilly boasts several exciting products in its pipeline. In particular, the company acquired the rights to lebrikizumab thanks to its acquisition of Dermira. Lebrikizumab is currently being evaluated in a phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, which is the most common and severe form of eczema. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted lebrikizumab a fast-track designation, which is "designed to facilitate the development, and expedite the review of drugs to treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need."

Atopic dermatitis currently affects about 33 million adults in the U.S. alone, and despite the existence of treatments for this condition, there is still a significant need for new treatment options. Lebrikizumab has a chance to be that new treatment option, and if approved, it could become a growth driver for Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly has many other products in its pipeline -- more than two dozen, in fact -- and the company will likely continue to strengthen its lineup of approved products.

Should you buy?

Eli Lilly's stock is up by 19.5% year to date, which compares favorably to the S&P 500 index, down by 11.4% since the beginning of the year. Not only does Eli Lilly expect the pandemic to have a positive impact on its financial results, but the company boasts a strong lineup of products -- many of which are increasing their sales by double-digit percentages -- as well as a rich pipeline. I expect the pharma giant to continue outperforming the broader market, and investors would do well to consider buying its shares today. 

Prosper Junior Bakiny has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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