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Regeneron Just Got a COVID-19 Boost

By Brian Orelli, PhD and Keith Speights - Updated Jun 26, 2021 at 9:18PM

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It may be short lived.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN -1.81%) posted solid first-quarter revenue growth of 38%, which was boosted by sales of its COVID-19 treatment, REGEN-COV. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on May 10, contributors Brian Orelli and Keith Speights discuss how much investors should factor sales of REGEN-COV into the the company's long-term valuation.

Brian Orelli: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals jumped a little bit after releasing first-quarter earnings. Do you think it was the results or investors looking forward?

Keith Speights: I think it's more of the latter, investors looking ahead to what might be on the way. Regeneron actually missed Wall Street's revenue expectations. The company reported revenue of a little over $2.5 billion. That was up 38% year over year, but it was just a little below what analysts were looking for. They were looking for $2.56 billion. The company was closer to $2.53 billion, so not a huge miss there, but they did miss nonetheless.

The big story in the first quarter for Regeneron was its COVID-19 antibody therapy, REGEN-COV. That therapy raked in U.S. sales of $262 million and then the company also made $67 million or so from its portion of sales outside the U.S.

But here's, I think, the main thing for investors to note with Regeneron's Q1 results. Without the sales from its COVID antibody cocktail, its revenue growth would have been 18% lower than what the company actually reported. It still would've been strong revenue growth because, again, sales up 38%, you back 18% out, there's still 20% year-over-year growth. Really strong. But the COVID antibody cocktail was the key driver there. Look, that therapy has turned out to be really, really promising. The company has even reported more great results over the last couple of months showing that the cocktail is effective in outpatients; it's effective in preventing infection.

My concern, though, is that the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines could reduce the need for any of these therapies, including REGEN-COV. That could impact Regeneron going forward.

But this biotech isn't a one-trick pony by any means. Regeneron has several drugs that are driving growth. They have eye-disease drug Eylea, which is still a strong performer. They have an autoimmune-disease drug, Dupixent, which is a really fast grower as well. They have cancer immunotherapy Libtayo; that's picking up stronger momentum. They're expecting to win some new indications for it.

So there are other reasons to buy Regeneron or consider buying Regeneron other than its COVID antibody cocktail. So overall, very good quarter, I thought, for Regeneron, even though they missed Wall Street's top-line estimate, and investors have a lot to look forward to.

Orelli: Management seems a little more bullish on REGEN-COV than Eli Lilly's (LLY -0.03%) management did on their antibodies, and they actually even lowered their guidance. Do you have any thoughts on the difference there?

Speights: I think it just comes down to efficacy and market strength that they're already demonstrating. So Regeneron has a better reason to be confident than Lilly does right now.

Orelli: I guess Lilly also lost one of their single-cocktail antibodies, but the REGEN-COV is a cocktail antibody. Lilly has a cocktail antibody, but they lost their single one because it seemed to hot be working for the variant, so that could be part of the difference there.

Speights: Yeah. I don't think sales are just going to evaporate for REGEN-COV by any means. I just don't know that after 2021 if this is going to be nearly the growth driver that it's serving as right now.

Brian Orelli, PhD, Keith Speights, and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a vdisclosure policy.

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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$624.83 (-1.81%) $-11.51
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Eli Lilly and Company
$316.72 (-0.03%) $0.10

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