Biotech and Pharma

Eli Lilly profit beats estimates on demand for its cancer and diabetes drugs

Key Points
  • Eli Lilly's fourth-quarter profit jumped 41.5%, helped by higher demand for its diabetes drugs and a successful launch of its Covid-19 antibody treatment.
  • The company recognized worldwide revenue of $871.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 for bamlanivimab, its Covid-19 antibody therapy.
Eli Lilly CEO on how Covid antibody drug helped drive Q4 earnings

Eli Lilly beat Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter profit on Friday, boosted by strong demand for its diabetes and cancer drugs and a partial lift from sales of its Covid-19 antibody treatment.

The company recorded $871.2 million in quarterly sales of the Covid-19 therapy, bamlanivimab, benefiting from the U.S. government's move to stock up on the drug for emergency use. Mizuho analysts had expected the drug to bring in sales of $813 million.

The company's Covid-19 therapy belongs to a class of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies and has been authorized for use in the United States in patients who are at risk of serious illness from the infection.

Sales of key Lilly drugs in the quarter beat expectations as high demand helped offset pricing pressures from rebates or after-market discounts to health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers.

Sales of diabetes drug Trulicity rose 24% to $1.50 billion, beating estimates of $1.39 billion, according to seven analysts polled by Refinitiv.

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Sales of cancer treatment Alimta also grew 23% to $652.7 million, trouncing estimates of $560 million.

The company lowered its 2021 earnings forecast to between $7.10 and $7.75 per share from its prior forecast of between $7.25 and $7.90, citing higher investments. It, however, kept its sales and adjusted profit forecasts unchanged.

Net earnings rose to $2.12 billion, or $2.32 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $1.50 billion, or $1.64 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.75 per share, beating estimates of $2.35 per share.

Overall sales rose 21.7% to $7.44 billion.

Eli Lilly shares were up 2.1% at $214.6 in trading before the opening bell.