Pfizer shares rise after it ups 2020 outlook and reports better-than-expected earnings

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The Pfizer world headquarters stands in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.

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Shares of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer rose in premarketing trading Tuesday after it reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and raised its outlook for 2020, despite a 32% drop in profit as demand fell for some of its drugs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company reported adjusted earnings of 78 cents per share during the three months ended June 30, higher than the 66 cents per share projected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Revenue fell 11% to $11.8 billion from $13.26 billion during the same quarter last year, but Wall Street saw it as good news since it was more than the $11.5 billion analysts expected.

On an unadjusted basis, net income fell to $3.43 billion in the quarter, down from $5.05 billion a year ago.

The company raised its full-year outlook, expecting to earn between $2.85 and $2.95 per share from a previous forecast of between $2.82 and $2.92 per share. It also expects to generate between $48.6 billion and $50.6 billion for 2020, up from its previous guidance of between $48.5 billion and $50.5 billion.

Shares of Pfizer were up by more than 3% in premarket trading. 

Pfizer said the coronavirus shaved about $500 million, or 4%, off its second-quarter revenue as more people worked from home and got fewer new prescriptions and vaccinations. Revenue from its Biopharma unit rose 4% to $9.8 billion while revenue from Upjohn, the business that will be combined with Mylan, dropped 32% to $2.01 billion. The strength in its Biopharma unit was mostly driven by the demand for breast cancer drug Ibrance and its blood thinner treatment, the company said.

“We remain fully committed to confronting the public health challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by collaborating with industry partners and academic institutions to develop potential approaches to prevent and treat COVID-19,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a release. “Our researchers and scientists have made important progress toward developing an effective vaccine though significant additional work remains.”

Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech said they began their late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

The trial will include up to 30,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 85 across 120 sites globally, including 39 U.S. states, the companies announced. If successful, they expect to submit it for final regulatory review as early as October. They plan to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

Pfizer and BioNTech are among several companies racing to develop a vaccine to fight the virus, which has infected more than 16 million people worldwide and killed at least 650,918 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 150 vaccines under development globally, according to the World Health Organization, with 25 already in human trials.

Among other competitors in the race for a vaccine is pharmaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

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