Why Pfizer Earnings Aren’t Exciting Investors

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Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) reported second-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Tuesday. The pharmaceuticals giant reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.67 and revenues of $12.9 billion. In the same period a year ago, Pfizer posted EPS of $0.64 on revenues of $13.15 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.66 and $13.08 billion in revenues.

The drug maker raised full-year financial guidance based on lower-than-forecast net interest expense as well as higher-than-forecast royalty income from certain products and dividend income from ViiV Healthcare. Updated guidance also absorbs $75 million in adjusted R&D expenses resulting from a May agreement with Sangamo to develop and commercialize gene therapy treatments for hemophilia A.

Full-year revenue projections are forecast at $52 billion to $54 billion, unchanged from prior guidance, and other income totaled about $200 million, compared with the prior estimate of $100 million in deductions. The adjusted EPS estimate was tightened from a previous range of $2.50 to $2.60 to a new range $2.54 to $2.60.

Analysts had forecast 2017 EPS at $2.55 and revenues at $52.76 billion. For the third quarter, analysts are looking for EPS of $0.64 and revenues of $13.14 billion.

CEO Ian Read said:

We have a strong pipeline with a steady flow of scientific innovation coming from all of our key therapeutic areas. Over the next five years, we project the potential for approximately 25 to 30 approvals of which up to 15 have the potential to be blockbusters, and we believe half of these potential blockbusters could receive approval by 2020. Our strategy remains focused on maximizing in-market opportunities while continuing to advance the pipeline and managing our cost structure to deliver attractive financial performance over time.

Read also noted that the sales decline of 12% in the company’s Essential Health division was the result of products that had recently lost marketing exclusivity. Sales in the Innovative Health segment rose 9% despite lower sales of Enbrel and Prevnar 13.

Pfizer has returned $8.9 billion to shareholders in the first half of 2016, comprised of dividend payments totaling $3.9 billion and share buybacks totaling $5 billion. The company has $6.4 billion remaining in its current share buyback authorization.

Shares closed at $33.16 on Monday, up less than 0.1% for the day, and traded up 0.6% in Tuesday’s premarket at $33.38 in a 52-week range of $29.83 to $36.82. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock was $37.40 before this morning’s report.