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Eli Lilly's profit beats on demand for new drugs

  • Eli Lilly reported a bigger-than-expected profit as sales of its new products more than doubled.
  • The drugmaker reported strong first-quarter demand for its Trulicity diabetes treatment and its psoriasis drug, Taltz, as well as its Cyramza lung cancer treatment.
Bottles of Eli Lilly's Cymbalta on a pharmacy shelf in Princeton, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Bottles of Eli Lilly's Cymbalta on a pharmacy shelf in Princeton, Illinois.

Eli Lilly reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly adjusted profit as sales of its newest products, including a diabetes injection, more than doubled.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker reported strong first-quarter demand for its Trulicity diabetes treatment and its psoriasis drug, Taltz, as well as its Cyramza lung cancer treatment.

"Lilly's new product launches, including Trulicity and Taltz, led the company to a strong quarter of volume-driven revenue growth," David Ricks, who took over as chief executive on Jan. 1, said in a statement.

Lilly took a $150 million charge in November associated with the failed trial of its Alzheimer's drug, solanezumab. This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to approve a rheumatoid arthritis drug developed with Incyte.

The company's diabetes treatments, however, continue to sell well.

Trulicity, an injectable treatment that competes with Novo Nordisk's blockbuster Victoza, brought in $372.9 million during the quarter — ahead of the analyst consensus of $328 million, according to Barclays.

Revenue from Lilly's biggest-selling diabetes drug, Humalog, rose 17 percent to $708.4 million, above the consensus estimate of $638 million.

"We are encouraged by another solid performance from Lilly's overall diabetes franchise," Leerink Partners analyst Seamus Fernandez said in a note.

Lilly posted a net loss of $110.8 million, or 10 cents per share, for the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of $440.1 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company recognized a charge of $857.6 million in the latest quarter related to the acquisition of CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, which the drugmaker bought in January for about $960 million.

Excluding items, the company earned 98 cents per share, above the average analyst estimate of 96 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 7.5 percent to $5.23 billion, ahead of the average analyst estimate of $5.22 billion.

To Monday's close, Lilly's shares had risen 13.4 percent this year. They were down marginally at $83.20 in premarket trading on Tuesday.