Sales of flagship drug Revlimid drive Celgene profit; forecast raised

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Celgene raised its 2016 profit forecast and exceeded expectations for second-quarter earnings on Thursday on the strength of its flagship multiple myeloma drug Revlimid and growth in newer medicines, sparking a 2 percent jump in its shares.

Revlimid sales soared about 18 percent to $1.70 billion, above Wall Street's consensus estimate of about $1.66 billion.

With Revlimid sales driven by new patient market share gains and longer duration of use, Celgene raised the full-year sales forecast for the medicine to $6.8 billion from $6.7 billion.

Celgene suffered a setback this week in efforts to expand Revlimid's uses when the drug failed to extend survival as a maintenance therapy for a type of lymphoma after patients had responded to prior treatment.

But the company said it would be wrong to draw conclusions from that data regarding three other late-stage Revlimid lymphoma trials in different patient populations and treatment settings, and expressed confidence in its potential there.

"Lymphoma will be a major growth driver in 2020 and beyond," Michael Pehl, head of hematology and oncology, told analysts on a conference call.

Celgene's new psoriasis drug Otezla, which is also being tested for atopic dermatitis and ulcerative colitis, posted sales of $274 million in the quarter.

"Otezla is on its way to hitting the $1 billion revenue milestone this year," said Chief Operating Officer Jackie Fouse, adding that it would become the company's fourth blockbuster product.

The company also highlighted the potential of its experimental Crohn's disease drug GED-301 as a key future growth driver, with important data expected this quarter.

"If that data looks good, we think that could be a big catalyst for the stock," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee, who called it a potential $2 billion a year product.

Celgene raised its adjusted earnings forecast for 2016 to a range of $5.70 to $5.75 per share, from $5.60 to $5.70.

Excluding items, Celgene earned $1.44 per share in the quarter, topping analysts' average expectations by 6 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"They continue to execute and outperform," Yee said, calling Celgene a standout among large biotechs.

Total revenue rose about 21 percent to $2.75 billion in the quarter, roughly in line with estimates.

Net income rose to $598.2 million, or 75 cents per share, from $356.2 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

Celgene shares rose 2.2 percent to $110.44 on Nasdaq after rising as high as $111.70.