Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) checked off all the boxes with its second-quarter results. The big drugmaker beat Wall Street revenue and earnings estimates. It also significantly increased full-year revenue and earnings guidance.
Investors cheered those results, with the pharma stock rising more than 3% on Wednesday. While that's a solid gain, it could have easily been even greater. Here's why Pfizer's Q2 update was even better than you might think.
Adding success to success
The biggest story for Pfizer in the second quarter was, unsurprisingly, its COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer reported the vaccine raked in sales of $7.8 billion in the period. Although the company splits gross profits with its partner BioNTech, the COVID-19 vaccine was still by far Pfizer's biggest moneymaker.
Much of Pfizer's full-year guidance increase stemmed from loftier expectations for the COVID-19 vaccine. The company previously projected full-year sales for the vaccine would total $26 billion. Now, Pfizer expects sales of around $33.5 billion this year.
However, there's more to the story. The new projected sales total is already outdated. Why? Pfizer signed a deal last week to supply an additional 200 million doses of its vaccine to the U.S. government. These doses weren't included in the company's revised guidance. Count on yet another guidance increase coming that will boost projected vaccine sales by close to $4 billion.
Speaking of boosting, Pfizer also provided new data from an initial analysis of a third booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine. The company said that a third dose given more than six months after the second dose of the vaccine produced neutralizing antibody levels that were more than five times higher than produced against the wild type (the coronavirus strain with no mutations).
Pfizer stated that it's talking with regulatory agencies about a potential third booster dose. The company expects to file for emergency use authorization (EUA) for a third dose as early as August.
Beyond the COVID-19 vaccine
It's easy to focus only on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine since the news continues to be very positive. However, there's also a lot to like about the company's Q2 update beyond the vaccine.
Pfizer delivered 10% revenue growth in Q2, leaving COVID-19 vaccine sales out of the mix altogether. That's a solid number in its own right, but it's even more impressive when you consider that the company had a negative 4% impact from lower drug prices.
By the way, this growth wasn't simply due to an easy year-over-year comparison like we've seen with some companies this earnings season. Pfizer actually enjoyed a pretty good quarter in the year-ago period, with revenue up 6% on a comparable basis.
Several of Pfizer's top products generated huge sales growth in Q2. Biosimilar sales skyrocketed 88% higher year over year. Sales of Vyndaqel/Vyndamax, which treats the rare heart disease cardiomyopathy caused by transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR-CM), soared 77%. Blockbusters including blood thinner Eliquis, pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13, and prostate cancer drug Xtandi also delivered solid sales growth.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Pfizer's Q2 update was how confident the company is that it will continue to grow robustly. Pfizer fully expects to increase its revenue by a compound annual growth rate of at least 6% through the end of 2025. It projects earnings growth in the double digits.
There are several important notes about the company's growth projections. First, they don't include any sales from its COVID-19 programs. Zero. Second, the estimates are risk-adjusted, which means that Pfizer isn't banking on all of its pipeline candidates succeeding. Third, the drugmaker isn't factoring in any potential for business development deals driving growth.
The COVID-19 vaccine will certainly continue to rake in billions of dollars at least over the next couple of years. By the end of this year, Pfizer also anticipates filing for EUA of an oral pill for patients with COVID-19 who aren't hospitalized. It thinks this pill could be used in treating hundreds of millions of patients.
Pfizer didn't report its cash position as of the end of the second quarter. However, the drugmaker is undoubtedly socking away a boatload of cash. CEO Albert Bourla said that Pfizer "will continue to pursue business development opportunities with the potential to further enhance our long-term growth prospects."
The bottom line is that Pfizer's growth expectations are almost certainly well below what the company should actually deliver. Sure, the Q2 results were great. But the implications for the future from Pfizer's update were even better.