Biogen profit rises in 3Q on MS drug sales

WESTON, Mass. -- Biotech drugmaker Biogen Idec Inc. said Thursday its profit grew more than 13 percent in the third quarter, led by sales of the company's multiple sclerosis treatment Avonex.

Company shares rose in afternoon trading as Biogen boosted its annual guidance.

The Massachusetts-based company said revenue from Avonex grew 8 percent to $736.2 million in the period. Sales of the company's cancer drug Rituxan grew 8 percent to $288 million. Those gains helped offset sales of the company's older multiple sclerosis treatment, Tysabri, which declined by 1 percent to $275 million.

Overall, Biogen earned $398.4 million, or $1.67 per share, up from $351.8 million, or $1.43 in the prior-year period. Total revenue grew 6 percent to $1.39 billion.

That performance topped Wall Street expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.59 per share on revenue of $1.38 billion.

The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings guidance to between $6.40 and $6.50. That's up from a July forecast when the company predicted earnings above $6.20 per share. Analysts expect $6.44 per share.

Shares of Biogen Idec rose $3.58, or 2.5 percent, to $145.64 in afternoon trading.

Biogen focuses on treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia and autoimmune disorders. Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy nerves. It can cause pain, numbness, slurred speech, impaired vision, muscle weakness, and neurological problems.

The company is awaiting a regulatory approval decision for a third multiple sclerosis drug known only as BG-12. Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration said it would take an additional three months to review the company's application.