What: After reporting third quarter financial results that outpaced estimates and issuing long-term financial guidance that stretches out until 2020, shares in AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) jumped by 10% earlier today.
So what: AbbVie reports that its total sales climbed 18.4% to $5.9 billion and that its GAAP EPS grew by 138% to $0.74 in the third quarter. Both of those results were ahead of industry watchers projections.
A big driver of the company's top-line growth was a 12% increase in sales of Humira, its top-selling medicine, but AbbVie also benefited from rapid revenue growth from Viekira Pak, its hepatitis C drug cocktail, and Imbruvica, its recently acquired therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Humira's results were weighed down by currency conversion resulting from overseas sales and if we factor in for those currency effects, then Humira's growth would have been 19.6% year-over-year. Regardless, Humira's $3.6 billion in sales accounted for 61% of AbbVie's total revenue.
Meanwhile, Viekira Pak, which hit the market in January, posted revenue of $469 million, which was up 21.8% from the second quarter, and Imbruvica generated $304 million in sales, comprised of $267 million in U.S. sales and $37 million associated with its profit-sharing agreement with Johnson & Johnson on sales outside America.
AbbVie also did a nice job on controlling its costs, delivering gross margin expansion of 2.2% and an adjusted operating margin of 44.9%, up from 38.5% a year ago.
Now what: The solid results are encouraging, but investors are likely cheering more about AbbVie's long-term guidance than last quarter's performance. That's because Humira is set to lose patent protection at the end of 2016 and various competitors have late-stage studies under way of biosimilars that could significantly erode Humira's market share once its patent expires.
Based on AbbVie's long-term guidance, however, it seems AbbVie's management is unfazed by the threat.
AbbVie expects it can deliver top line sales of $37 billion in 2020, reflecting roughly 10% average annual growth between now and then, and that forecast assumes that Humira, in spite of biosimilars competition, will remain a mega blockbuster that brings in $18 billion in 2018 alone.
AbbVie's 2020 forecast also reflects expectations that Imbruvica's revenue will grow from its current pace of roughly $1.2 billion per year to $5 billion per year and that AbbVie can turn more of its sales into profit during the period as it increases its operating margin to 50% in 2020, or by an average 1% to 2% per year.
In addition to its long-term outlook, AbbVie also announced estimates for adjusted earnings per share of between $4.90 and $5.10 next year and if AbbVie can make good on that projection, then buying shares at current levels may make sense because even if we include today's move, AbbVie's shares have retreated by about 10% since June and that means that its trading at a forward P/E of just 12.2 and that its dividend is yielding 3.8%.