Pfizer profit beats estimates on higher demand for COVID products

Revenue from the antiviral pill, Paxlovid, exceeded market estimates by more than $1b, while vaccine sales surged 20%, helping the drugmaker reaffirm the combined 2022 revenue forecast of $54b.

 People pose with syringe with needle in front of displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken. (photo credit: REUTERS)
People pose with syringe with needle in front of displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Pfizer Inc. beat second-quarter profit expectations on Thursday as its COVID-19 pill as well as vaccine remained in high demand following an uptick in infections in the United States.

Revenue from the antiviral pill, Paxlovid, exceeded market estimates by more than $1 billion, while vaccine sales surged 20%, helping the drugmaker reaffirm the combined 2022 revenue forecast of $54 billion.

Pfizer also kept its full-year sales forecast unchanged, despite taking a $2 billion hit due to a stronger dollar, sending its shares up 1% in premarket trading.

While its coronavirus vaccine powered much of its growth last year, its antiviral treatment Paxlovid, whose demand has surged in recent months, is expected to further bolster revenue.

"One question that could be asked is why Pfizer maintained ... COVID vaccine guidance despite getting an incremental $3 billion plus order from the US government."

Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal
 Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are pictured in a General practitioners practice in Berlin, Germany, April 10, 2021. (credit: REUTERS) Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are pictured in a General practitioners practice in Berlin, Germany, April 10, 2021. (credit: REUTERS)

Paxlovid sales of $8.1 billion beat expectations of $7 billion, according to Refinitiv data, as it becomes the most used COVID antiviral in the United States.

Lucrative vaccine boosters 

Pfizer has been banking on demand for vaccine boosters to drive up sales in the next few years.

The company and its partner BioNTech last month signed a $3.2 billion deal with the US government for 105 million doses of their vaccine, which includes supply of retooled Omicron-adapted booster, pending regulatory clearance. 

"One question that could be asked is why Pfizer maintained ... COVID vaccine guidance despite getting an incremental $3 billion plus order from the US government," said Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal.

The company recorded a $450 million inventory write-off in the second quarter related to its COVID-19 products that had exceeded or are expected to exceed their shelf-lives.

Pfizer's quarterly profit rose to $9.91 billion from $5.56 billion last year. Excluding items, it earned $2.04 per share, above estimates of $1.78.