Few stocks offer the combination of growth, value, and income that AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) does. However, investors have been concerned about just how long the drugmaker will be able to continue delivering solid growth. 

AbbVie announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Friday. And the growth streak continued. The big-pharma stock rose less than 1% in early trading today. Here are the highlights from AbbVie's first-quarter update.

Flask with a dollar sign at the bottom of it

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

AbbVie reported revenue in the first quarter of $13 billion, a 51% year-over-year jump. This result beat the average analysts' revenue estimate of $12.76 billion.

The company announced first-quarter net income of $3.55 billion, or $1.99 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In the prior-year period, GAAP earnings totaled $3 billion, or $2.02 per share.

AbbVie recorded adjusted earnings of $2.95 per share, up 22% year over year. The consensus Wall Street estimate was for adjusted earnings of $2.83.

Behind the numbers

As has been the case since AbbVie began operations as an independent entity in 2013, Humira took center stage in the company's quarterly update. Global net revenue for the autoimmune-disease drug increased 3.5% year over year to $4.87 billion. International sales for Humira fell 8.3% to $960 million due to biosimilar competition. However, U.S. sales for the drug climbed 6.9% to nearly $3.91 billion.

AbbVie's newer autoimmune-disease drugs gained significant momentum in the quarter. Sales for Skyrizi totaled $574 million, with Rinvoq generating net revenue of $303 million.

Net revenue for blood-cancer drug Imbruvica rose 2.9% year over year to $1.27 billion. AbbVie recorded U.S. sales of $999 million plus $269 million for its share of profits on international sales of the drug by Johnson & Johnson. Its other blockbuster blood-cancer drug, Venclexta, raked in sales of $405 million, up 27.9% year over year.

Products brought into AbbVie's lineup through its acquisition of Allergan also made a solid contribution to the first-quarter top line. Global net revenue from Allergan's aesthetics products totaled $1.14 billion, a year-over-year jump of 34.9% on a comparable operational basis. (Since AbbVie's acquisition of Allergan didn't close until May 2020, this refers to what the growth would have been if the Allergan operations were part of AbbVie in the first quarter of 2020.) Neuroscience portfolio sales increased 10.9% on a comparable operational basis to $1.25 billion.

There were a couple of problem areas for AbbVie in the first quarter, though. Total net sales for Allergan's eye-care products fell 9.2% on a comparable operational basis to $817 million. The company's women's health portfolio generated total net revenue of $180 million, down 21.2% on a comparable operational basis.

Looking ahead

AbbVie raised its full-year 2021 earnings guidance. The company now projects GAAP earnings per share will be between $7.27 and $7.47, up from its previous forecast of a range of $6.69 to $6.89. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be between $12.37 and $12.57, up from the previous guidance of $12.32 to $12.52.

The main thing for investors to watch is AbbVie's progress in picking up approvals for new products and additional indications for existing products. CEO Richard Gonzalez said, "Our new products are delivering impressive performance and we are on the cusp of potential commercial approvals for more than a dozen new products or indications over the next two years -- including five expected approvals in 2021."

However, two of those anticipated approvals won't happen as quickly as AbbVie would have preferred. The Food and Drug Administration pushed back the review period by three months for AbbVie's regulatory applications for Rinvoq in treating atopic dermatitis and psoriatic arthritis. A decision on the psoriatic arthritis indication is now expected late in the second quarter, with a decision on the atopic dermatitis indication on the way early in the third quarter.

All of AbbVie's pending FDA approvals are important. With Humira losing U.S. patent exclusivity in 2023, the company is counting on its pipeline to help drive growth in the future.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.