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Pfizer tops Q3 forecasts as total COVID vaccine sales soar

November 2, 2021 GMT
FILE - The Pfizer logo is displayed at the company's headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York.  Pfizer beat third-quarter expectations, Tuesday, Nov. 2,  and raised its 2021 forecast again even as sales of its top product, the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, slipped in the U.S.    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - The Pfizer logo is displayed at the company's headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer beat third-quarter expectations, Tuesday, Nov. 2, and raised its 2021 forecast again even as sales of its top product, the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, slipped in the U.S. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - The Pfizer logo is displayed at the company's headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer beat third-quarter expectations, Tuesday, Nov. 2, and raised its 2021 forecast again even as sales of its top product, the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, slipped in the U.S. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Pfizer is hiking sales expectations for its top-selling COVID-19 vaccine again, and its early look at 2022 also falls well above Wall Street forecasts.

The drugmaker said Tuesday that it now expects to book about $36 billion in revenue from Comirnaty this year. That’s about 7% higher than what Pfizer forecast in July and more than twice what the company expected at the start of the year, shortly after distribution of the two-shot vaccine began.

Next year, Pfizer says global vaccine sales could total around $29 billion or more, and there’s room for growth. The company expects to recognize revenue for 1.7 billion doses in 2022, but it could produce 4 billion.

“We continue to believe the vaccine has durability, and there will continue to be significant revenue beyond 2022,” Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio told analysts.

Analysts forecast, on average, $24 billion in sales from the vaccine next year, according to FactSet. They also expect revenue from the shots to start waning in the following years, depending on how the pandemic plays out.

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But for now, Comirnaty, which Pfizer developed with Germany’s BioNTech, has gained a dominating market share in the U.S. and Europe. It also is seeing growth in emerging markets.

In the U.S., around 248 million doses of Comirnaty have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares to 159 million and 15 million doses of vaccines from rivals Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, respectively.

Pfizer books the vast majority of revenue from Comirnaty and splits profit, as well as the cost to make and distribute the vaccine, with BioNTech. In the third quarter, the U.S. drugmaker recorded about $13 billion in sales from the shots, even though revenue slipped in its home market.

Analysts expected that, as demand fell following the rush to get shots shortly after vaccine eligibility expanded in the spring. But demand appears to be picking up again and will be helped by booster shots and an expansion of the vaccine for use in children.

Late last week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine — just a third of the amount given to teens and adults — for emergency use. Children could become eligible for the vaccinations later this week.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the first cleared by the FDA for use in children. The U.S. government has already purchased 115 million pediatric doses of the shots, or enough to vaccinate every U.S. child, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla told analysts on Tuesday.

Outside Comirnaty, Pfizer products include several cancer treatments, other vaccines and internal medicine drugs like Eliquis, for preventing blood clots and strokes.

The company also is developing a potential oral COVID-19 drug that could be used to treat patients or as a preventive measure to keep a household from getting sick after a member catches the virus.

Pfizer executives said Tuesday the potential treatment shows signs of being effective against several variants of the virus, and they were optimistic as they await research data expected later this year.

“It’s a really important drug for the world ... fingers crossed as we look forward to the readout,” Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Mikael Dolsten said.

Overall, Pfizer earned $8.15 billion in the third quarter. Adjusted results totaled $1.34 per share. The company’s revenue more than doubled to $24.09 billion compared to last year’s quarter.

Analysts expected, on average, third-quarter earnings of $1.08 per share from Pfizer on about $22.58 billion in revenue.

Pfizer also raised its 2021 forecast again on Tuesday. It now expects 2021 adjusted earnings of $4.13 to $4.18 per share on revenue ranging from $81 billion to $82 billion.

Analysts forecast earnings of $4.04 per share on $78.77 billion in revenue.

Shares of New York-based Pfizer Inc. jumped nearly 5% to $45.72 in midday trading as overall markets rose slightly.

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Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thpmurphy