rise@ (Adds shares, analyst comments, details on pipeline)
Oct 27 (Reuters) - AbbVie Inc on Friday said it expects its flagship drug Humira to bring $21 billion in sales by 2020, about $3 billion higher than its expectation two years ago.
Shares of the company were up 2.7 percent at $92 before the bell.
"In a very choppy earnings season, have to hand it to AbbVie for delivering," Evercore ISI analyst Joshua Schimmer wrote in a note, adding the drugmaker's growth is expected to be sustainable for the next few years as its pipeline unfolds.
AbbVie's acquisition of Stemcentrx last year gave it access to Rova-T, an experimental treatment for small cell lung cancer.
AbbVie's pipeline drugs upadacitinib and risankizumab have been successful in recent trials, offering hope the company could access billion dollar markets if they are approved.
AbbVie, which hopes to reduce its dependence on Humira over time, said cancer treatments would become its key growth driver in the long term.
The U.S. drugmaker also reported third-quarter earnings above Wall Street estimates, as it sold more of Humira - the world's best selling prescription medicine - and Imbruvica, its other main drug.
Humira, which is approved to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, raked in $16.08 billion in sales last year, making up more than 60 percent of AbbVie's 2016 revenue.
Last month, AbbVie reassured investors that Humira would be safe from competition for at least a few more years, granting rival Amgen Inc a non-exclusive license to sell a copycat version in the United States, but not before 2023.
Humira generated sales of $4.70 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, ahead of analysts' average estimate of $4.66 billion, according to Jeffrey Holford, an analyst at Jefferies.
Chicago-based AbbVie also raised its 2017 forecast for adjusted earnings to $5.53 to $5.55 per share from $5.44 to $5.54 per share.
The drugmaker's net earnings rose to $1.63 billion or $1.01 per share in the third quarter, from $1.60 billion or 97 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, AbbVie earned $1.41 per share, topping analysts' expectations of $1.38, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net revenue rose 8.8 percent to $7 billion, matching analysts' estimates.
AbbVie also boosted its quarterly dividend payout 11 percent to 71 cents per share. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)