Biotech and Pharma

Eli Lilly beats earnings expectations, boosts outlook after regulatory setback

Key Points
  • Eli Lilly beat first-quarter earnings expectations.
  • A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted Monday against approving a higher dose of Lilly and Incyte's rheumatoid arthritis drug.
Eli Lilly CEO: We're beginning a new phase of growth

Eli Lilly beat first-quarter earnings expectations and raised its outlook for the year, a day after facing a regulatory setback.

A Food and Drug Administration panel advised on Monday against a high dose of Lilly-Incyte's rheumatoid arthritis drug while voting in favor of the lower dose. Lilly's stock traded down Monday and rebounded Tuesday after the company said higher drug sales and lower costs fueled its first-quarter performance.

Share prices dipped 0.14 percent on Tuesday.

Here's how the company did compared with what Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected:

  • Earnings: $1.34 per share, adjusted, vs. $1.13 per share expected
  • Revenue: $5.7 billion vs. $5.51 billion expected

The company reported net income of $1.22 billion, or $1.16 per share, compared with a loss of $110.8 million, or 10 cents per share, in the year earlier. When excluding variable items, Eli Lilly earned $1.34 per share, topping expectations by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters of $1.13 a share.

Revenue increased 9 percent to $5.70 billion, beating expectations of $5.51 billion. Sales of Trulicity, Humalog, Alimta and Cialis helped the company in the quarter. Lilly also said it slashed its operating expenses by 5 percent.

Lilly raised its full-year forecast to a range of $5.10 to $5.20 earnings per share, up from $4.81 to $4.91 it previously guided. It also hiked its revenue expectation to a range of $23.7 billion to $24.2 billion from $23 billion to $23.5 billion.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted Monday against approving a 4-milligram dose of Lilly-Incyte's rheumatoid arthritis drug. The panel recommended it be approved in a 2-mg dose.

The drug, baricitinib, has already been approved in 40 countries.

"The 4-milligram dose is an important dose," Lilly CEO David Ricks told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "When we look at our performance outside of the U.S., where this drug is doing extremely well and really transforming the lives of patients with this condition, there is more 4-milligram use than 2-milligram use. So it is an important part of the launch strategy,"

"That said, we need to work with the FDA," he said. "And as I said, this is one input for them."

Ricks said the company hopes to launch the drug this summer.

Lilly stock has shed about 4 percent over the past year.