AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) will release its quarterly report on Friday, and with its stock having jumped considerably since it started trading as a separate entity, investors are hoping for more good news from the drugmaker. Yet even if AbbVie earnings contract slightly from pro forma figures from the previous year, the company has some promising prospects in its pipeline to help it drive long-term growth in future years.

AbbVie has historically relied on a single drug, Humira, for much of its revenue, and the company's spinoff from Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) only magnified the importance of Humira to its results. Yet AbbVie knows it has to move beyond its blockbuster drug to find potential replacements down the road. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with AbbVie over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on AbbVie

Analyst EPS Estimate

$0.79

Change From Year-Ago EPS

(1.3%)

Revenue Estimate

$4.54 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

1%

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

1*

Source: Yahoo! Finance. *Out of one earnings release since spinoff.

Can AbbVie earnings perk up this quarter?
Analysts have generally gotten more optimistic in recent months about AbbVie earnings, keeping their short-term estimates for the June quarter unchanged but raising their full-year 2013 consensus by a penny per share. The stock's ascent has slowed in recent months, but it still posted a 5% gain since mid-April.

AbbVie's first-quarter results underscore the importance of Humira to the company's overall results. Sales of $2.2 billion for the drug represented half of AbbVie's overall revenue, and those figures continue to accelerate higher as a new indication for ulcerative colitis sent Humira revenue up 16% worldwide and up 23.7% in the U.S. market. Yet Humira's coming expiration dates of 2016 in the U.S. and 2018 in Europe make it clear that the company has to move forward with new initiatives.

One possibility comes from the company's direct-acting antiviral combination to treat hepatitis C, which earned favorable status as a breakthrough therapy from the FDA in May. The problem, though, is that the hep-C space is extremely competitive, with both Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) having submitted their own hep-C treatments for FDA priority review. Although J&J's simeprevir was first to get into the FDA's review process, it shares the same drawback as AbbVie's treatment in that it only treats one genotype of the hep-C virus. That puts Gilead's sofosbuvir in the driver's seat, as it treats hep-C viruses of different genotypes. The big question for AbbVie is whether breakthrough status will give it a leg up as it seeks to combine its own stable of drugs into a single therapy to avoid revenue sharing. But the recent approval of Abbott Labs' hep-C genotyping test could boost attention for the disease and paint AbbVie in a favorable light within the industry.

Still, AbbVie faces plenty of competitive pressure. Late last month, the company got bad news when the European Medicines Agency approved two rival autoimmune-disease medications that were biosimilars for J&J's Remicade. If the trend continues, the EMA could move on to approve other biosimilars that would hurt AbbVie more directly.

In the AbbVie earnings report, watch to see how the company discusses its strategy for its hep-C treatment, as well as the rest of its pipeline. With the importance of figuring out what it will look like after Humira, AbbVie has plenty of work to do to convince investors that the company will thrive beyond the next few years.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Gilead Sciences and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.