Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) is set to release earnings on Thursday before the bell. The big biotech's sales and earnings will obviously be important, but what management says about its pipeline will be equally significant.

Current drugs

  • Revlimid: Sales growth is coming from newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients. The approval in Europe came in February, but since reimbursements in each country happens independently, there's a lag in the EU launch. In the U.S., new competition from Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) Kyprolis, which was approved by the FDA to treat second-line multiple myeloma patients in July, will be key to growth; Celgene needs to capture the patients in the first-line setting faster than Amgen is taking patients in the second-line setting. Amgen reported 46% growth in Kyprolis sales in the third quarter.
  • Abraxane: Expansion into pancreatic cancer is the key, especially in Europe where the reimbursement has been worked out after gaining approval two years ago.
  • Pomalyst: The U.S. label was recently updated with overall survival data, which should help drive sales further. A launch in Japan in June will also help boost the year-over-year growth number.
  • Vidaza: The decade-old drug had flat sales in the second quarter and didn't get a single mention on the conference call by management or analysts. Don't expect anything different in the third quarter.
  • Otezla: Direct-to-consumer advertisement, which started recently, will be key to how well Otezla can compete with the entrenched drugs that treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Fortunately, Otezla is taken orally giving it an advantage over biologics that have to be injected or infused.

Pipeline
Sometimes investors get data released alongside earnings reports; a lot of times they don't. This quarter it seems very likely we'll get something from Celgene because abstracts for the American Society of Hematology meeting are set to be released on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. ET. That's the same time that Celgene's conference call is set to begin, so expect some mad scrambling by junior analysts to give their boss something intelligent to ask on the call.

Earnings
After second-quarter earnings, management increased its 2015 adjusted earnings per share guidance to $4.75 to $4.85, up from the original range of $4.60 to $4.75. At the midpoint, that's an increase of approximately 29% over 2014 adjusted earnings per share.

Celgene's management is notoriously conservative with guidance; adjusted earnings per share for the first half was 33% year over year, so the company is already sitting on a bit of a cushion. Don't be surprised if Celgene comes in with another beat and raise in the third quarter.

Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Celgene. 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.