All eyes will be on performance of Sovaldi, Gilead's new drug for hepatitis C, which has become a barometer for investor sentiment about biotech.
Expectations are sky high. Analysts are looking for first-quarter revenue from the drug of $1.05 billion, putting it on track to draw an estimated $4.78 billion for the year, according to FactSet estimates. And even those might be low, according to Michael Yee, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. He puts first-quarter Sovaldi revenue at $1.7 billion and full-year sales at $7 billion or more.
"Sovaldi," Yee pointed out in an April 15 research note, "is on its way to become the biggest launch in drug history."
Expectations for the drug rose even more Thursday, after insurer UnitedHealth said it spent more than $100 million to cover Sovaldi in the first quarter, vastly more than what it expected. Gilead rose 1 percent as the rest of biotech declined on that news.
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The drug has been the subject of scrutiny because of its $84,000 price tag, equating to about $1,000 a day for a 12-week course of treatment. The debate over pricing pressure has weighed on biotech stocks, particularly following a letter Congress sent to Gilead last month.
"Investor focus will be almost entirely on Sovaldi sales and reimbursement," analysts at Cowen wrote in a research note. "Perhaps just as important will be management's commentary about future trends, and reimbursement."