Revenue was up 5% year over year to $4.36 billion in the first quarter. For most drugmakers, 5% growth would be a slow quarter, but Teva has been struggling of late, with its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone facing generic competition and a decline in its U.S. generic business, which resulted in revenue falling 8% year over year -- 5% in local currency terms -- in 2019.
Going from a 5% decline to a 5% gain is quite the feat. Unfortunately, some of the gain in the most recent quarter might be short-lived, since it was due to strong demand in generic and over-the-counter products and respiratory products, presumably for people stocking up and treating COVID-19, respectively.
Unfortunately, sales of Copaxone in the U.S. are still falling, down 5% year over year. On the non-COVID-19 plus side, U.S. sales of Austedo, which treats tardive dyskinesia and Huntington's disease chorea, were up 64% year over year to $122 million.
Teva's bottom line looked even better than the revenue growth, with the company cutting selling and marketing expenses as well as spending less on research and development, which helped boost adjusted operating income by 22% year over year. Adjusted earnings per share were up 27% to $0.76.
Even after today's move higher, shares of Teva are still down more than 20% over the last year and down more than 60% over the last three years, demonstrating just how far the drugmaker has fallen. The most recent quarter is a sign that Teva is on the turnaround track, but investors should be careful about penciling all of the first-quarter revenue gains into future quarters.