What happened

Shares of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) were trading 4.9% lower as of 2:50 p.m. EDT on Thursday following the company's announcement of its first-quarter results before the market opened. 

So what

Bristol Myers Squibb missed analysts' Q1 estimates for both the top and bottom lines. Revenue rose 3% year over year to $11.1 billion, a little short of the consensus Wall Street estimate of $11.12 billion. Adjusted earnings were flat year over year at $4 billion, or $1.74 per share. The analysts' average estimate had been for adjusted earnings of $1.82 per share.

$1 bill folded into an arrow that points down

Image source: Getty Images.

Year-over-year comparisons weren't very impressive for one primary reason: Sales for several of Bristol Myers Squibb's drugs were artificially higher in the prior-year period because healthcare providers were stocking up on medication at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in anticipation of potential supply chain issues. Of the company's blockbuster drugs, only one (cancer immunotherapy Yervoy) generated growth of more than 10% in Q1 2021.

Investors shouldn't be too pessimistic about the prospects for the big pharma stock, though. The impact of COVID-19 on its results will only be temporary, and Bristol Myers Squibb still has several drugs in its lineup that are capable of delivering stronger growth.

Now what

Bristol Myers Squibb projects full-year 2021 revenue growth in the high-single-digit percentages. Over the longer term, there are two key factors that will impact the company's growth. Revlimid will face limited-volume generic competition beginning in 2022. However, the company has newer drugs, including recently approved cell therapies Abecma (ide-cel) and Breyanzi (liso-cel), that could become blockbusters and potentially offset sales declines for Revlimid.