Gilead Sciences (GILD -0.08%) has kept its revenue and earnings growing in the past two years -- if ever so slightly -- largely thanks to Veklury, its COVID-19 therapy. However, the biotech's antiviral coronavirus treatment was actually a bit of a deadweight on its top-line growth during the second quarter. Gilead Sciences' revenue rose by only about 1% year over year to $6.3 billion during the period.
Excluding sales of Veklury, which dropped by 46% year over year to $445 million, Gilead Sciences' revenue for the quarter grew by a more impressive and respectable (by industry standards) 7%. Veklury's sales will likely continue to fluctuate based on surges in coronavirus cases, the presence of competing therapies, vaccination rates, and other factors.
Thankfully, there are tangible signs of brighter days ahead for Gilead Sciences, with or without Veklury. Here are two reasons to be optimistic about the drugmaker's prospects.
1. Gilead Sciences' HIV business is recovering
Medicines are generally must-haves regardless of economic conditions. But when the COVID-19 outbreak started, there was a slowdown in screening and diagnosis of HIV. These dynamics harmed Gilead Sciences' most crucial segment. Further, some of Gilead Sciences' HIV medicines lost patent exclusivity, leading to their drop in sales.
Despite these headwinds, Gilead Sciences' HIV business looks like it's making steady progress. During the second quarter, the company's revenue from this unit jumped by 7% year over year to $4.2 billion.
Gilead Sciences' best-selling HIV medicine (and overall) is Biktarvy. The therapy's sales during the second quarter increased by 28% year over year to $2.6 billion. Biktarvy is the leading HIV treatment in the U.S. -- as well as the fastest growing -- and it increased its share of the market by four percentage points year over year to 44%. Gilead's Descovy -- also used to treat HIV -- is also performing relatively well with the medicine's sales climbing by about 6% year over year to $460 million.
But there is even more good news. During the second quarter, the company resubmitted its application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lenacapavir, an investigational six-month, long-acting HIV regimen. The agency had declined to approve it back in March, citing vial incompatibility issues as the reason behind the thumbs down.
Gilead went back and forth with health industry authorities before resubmitting this application, and it looks likely that lenacapavir will earn the nod this time around. When it does, it will help replace those older drugs that have lost patent exclusivity. There are currently no HIV therapies on the market with a six-month treatment schedule. Lenacapavir would be the first of its kind. As such, it could steal considerable market share from competing therapies.
The FDA set a PDUFA goal date (the latest date by which it will complete the review of the therapy) of Dec. 27.
2. An improving oncology business
Gilead Sciences is not known primarily as an oncology company, but during the second quarter, it reported a record $527 million in revenue from its oncology business, which represented a 71% year-over-year increase. Cancer treatment Trodelvy saw its sales increase by 79% in that time frame to $159 million. Trodelvy first won FDA approval in 2020.
This medicine likely has many more years of sales increases ahead, especially considering the plans Gilead Sciences has for it. Earlier this year, the drugmaker emphasized its desire to make a bigger dent within oncology by pouring more money into research and development initiatives, including running more clinical trials in this therapeutic area.
In total, the biotech announced it was planning to launch at least 20 oncology clinical trials this year, including seven late-stage ones for Trodelvy.
Don't forget the dividend
Gilead Sciences' coronavirus tailwind may be subsiding. Sales of Veklury are unlikely to plummet to nothing, but they will become somewhat unpredictable, even if COVID-19 stays with us. Thankfully, the rest of Gilead's business seems to be on a path to recovery. Both the company's HIV and oncology segments have bright futures.
Newer approvals such as Trodelvy and lenacapavir -- if the latter does earn the nod later this year -- should help drive top- and bottom-line growth. As a bonus, Gilead is an excellent option for income-seeking investors. The company's yield of 4.9% is well above average, and the company has a history of payout increases. That's just one more reason to seriously consider purchasing shares of this biotech giant.