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Pfizer Knocks It Out of the Park With Its Q1 Results

By Keith Speights - May 4, 2021 at 10:56AM

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The company delivered huge revenue and earnings growth that beat Wall Street's expectations.

Older drugs, including Lipitor and Lyrica, weighed on Pfizer's (PFE 2.15%) growth in recent years. But investors hoped that things would improve significantly after the big drugmaker spun off its Upjohn unit. They also expected that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, developed with BioNTech, would turbocharge growth. And now, investors' wishes have been fulfilled.

Pfizer announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Tuesday. Despite a blowout quarter, the pharma stock slipped a little in early trading. Here are the highlights from Pfizer's Q1 update.

COVID-19 vaccine vials.

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Pfizer reported revenue of $14.6 billion in the first quarter, a whopping 42% year-over-year jump. This result easily topped the average analyst revenue estimate of $13.6 billion.

The company announced Q1 net income of $4.9 billion, or $0.86 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In the prior-year period, Pfizer's GAAP earnings totaled $3.4 billion, or $0.60 per share.

Pfizer posted adjusted net income in the first quarter of $5.3 billion, or $0.93 per share. This marked a big improvement from adjusted earnings of $3.5 billion, or $0.63 per share, recorded in the prior-year period. It also was well above the consensus Wall Street estimate of $0.78 per share.

Behind the numbers

COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 was the star of Pfizer's first quarter. Sales for the vaccine totaled $3.46 billion, with a little over $2 billion of that amount generated in the U.S. Even without the COVID-19 vaccine, though, Pfizer's revenue increased 8% year over year. That improvement even includes a 5% negative impact from pricing.

Sales for the company's oncology drugs jumped 18% year over year to $2.86 billion. Prostate cancer drug Xtandi and kidney cancer drug Inlyta led the way, offsetting a 1% sales decline for breast cancer drug Ibrance.

Pfizer's internal-medicine drugs raked in $2.59 billion, up 11% year over year. Blood-thinner Eliquis especially stood out, with sales soaring 26% to $1.64 billion.

The drugmaker's hospital sales totaled $2.34 billion, a 12% increase. Although several drugs that Pfizer includes in the hospital category experienced sales declines, the company's global contract manufacturing and development organization (CDMO), Pfizer CentreOne, more than made up for those declines with strong revenue growth. 

First-quarter inflammation and immunology sales rose 9% year over year to nearly $1.07 billion. Xeljanz was the big winner with 19% year-over-year sales growth.

Pfizer also recorded revenue of $824 million for its rare-disease drug lineup, a 29% jump. Nearly all of this increase was due to Vyndaqel, with the drug's sales nearly doubling year over year.

While Pfizer clearly delivered spectacular growth in the first quarter, there was an asterisk with its results. The company had three additional selling days in the U.S.and four extra selling days in international markets in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the prior-year period.

Looking ahead

This is shaping up to be an outstanding year for Pfizer. The company raised its full-year 2021 guidance. It now expects sales of between $70.5 billion and $72.5 billion. Pfizer anticipates adjusted earnings per share of between $3.55 and $3.65. 

The primary reason for this improved outlook is, unsurprisingly, BNT162b2. Pfizer now projects the COVID-19 vaccine will generate revenue of $26 billion this year, up from $15 billion in its previous quarterly update. 

Next year is also looking pretty good for BNT162b2 sales. Pfizer already has contracts with Canada and Israel for beyond 2021. The company said that it's "currently negotiating similar potential contracts with multiple other countries." This includes the European Union, which appears to be close to finalizing a supply deal with Pfizer and BioNTech, for up to 1.8 billion doses to be delivered through 2023.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$52.75 (2.15%) $1.11
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$160.20 (-0.52%) $0.83

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