Shares of Pfizer suffered their biggest monthly decline since June 2020 as investors anticipated a troubled path ahead for the pharma giant’s COVID products.
The stock slumped 14 per cent on Wall Street this month, erasing $US40 billion ($57 billion) in market value. In its earnings report on Tuesday, Pfizer’s 2023 forecasts fell short of analysts’ expectations on precipitously declining demand for its blockbuster coronavirus vaccines and Paxlovid treatment.
US President Joe Biden received a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine in March.Credit:Bloomberg
The company is predicting 2023 adjusted earnings between $US3.25 and $US3.45 a share, well below analysts’ average estimate of $US4.31 a share. Revenue for the year will be in the range of $US67 billion to $US71 billion, Pfizer said in a statement. Analysts had expected $US71.7 billion.
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Comirnaty and virus pill Paxlovid have been transformative for the company, contributing more than half of the company’s $US100 billion in sales last year. The pharma giant has been messaging for months that it wouldn’t be able to keep the pace, sharing forecasts for growth outside of COVID-19. Still, the downturn in its COVID business was more stark than analysts had been expecting, putting pressure on the drugmaker to show other avenues for growth.
Pfizer’s shares got a boost throughout the pandemic as its COVID-19 vaccine and pill brought in billions of dollars in sales.
For 2023, Pfizer said it expects sales of around $US13.5 billion for Comirnaty, down 64 per cent from the year before and below the $US16 billion forecast by analysts. Its 2023 sales guidance for its COVID pill Paxlovid was $US8 billion, down 58 per cent from the year prior and below the $US9.2 billion expected by Wall Street.
For the December quarter, Pfizer’s adjusted profit was $US1.14 a share, beating analysts’ expectations for earnings of $US1.05. Sales were $US24.3 billion, in line with Wall Street’s expectations for $US24.2 billion.
Pfizer did say it expects its COVID business to grow again in 2024 after “reaching a low point in 2023” because of governments having substantial supply of the products already, thereby negating the need for further orders.
Pfizer’s expenses are expected to be far higher in 2023, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst John Murphy. That’s due to spending on the launches of potential new products as well as the shift of its COVID products to the private insurance market in the United States, he said.
For its part, Pfizer has been clear that it’s looking ahead to find growth post-COVID. Last year “was a record-breaking year for Pfizer,” chief executive Albert Bourla said in an earnings statement. “As proud as we are about what we have accomplished, our focus is always on what is next.”
Bloomberg/The Washington Post
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