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Gilead HIV Drugs Drive Profit After Year-Ago Loss

Gilead Sciences posted a third-quarter profit that topped Wall Street targets on Thursday, on sales of drugs that fight the virus that causes AIDS, compared with a year-ago net loss due to acquisition-related costs.

The fast-growing company, which named former Avaya and Merck & Co executive Caroline Dorsa chief financial officer, now expects 2007 product revenue to land at the high end of its existing forecast range of $3.6 billion to $3.7 billion.

Foster City, California-based Gilead reported a profit of $398.3 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with a loss of $52.2 million, or 6 cents per share, a year earlier, when the company took a large charge for its purchase of Corus Pharma.

Analysts, on average, had seen Gilead posting a profit of 39 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Total revenue grew 41 percent to $1.06 billion, helped by product revenue that increased 44 percent to $961.9 million during the quarter.

Sales of HIV drugs rose 45 percent to $805.8 million, which included a 32 percent jump in sales of the two-drug combination medicine Truvada to $409.1 million.

Sales of the newer Atripla, which combines Truvada with Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sustiva into a single pill, more than tripled to $241.1 million from $68.4 million in the year-ago period.

On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said it recommended approval for Atripla. Company executives said on a conference call that final clearance could come before the end of the year.

That news comes a day after Canadian drug regulators approved Atripla for the treatment of HIV infection in adults.

Royalty, contract and other revenue rose 23 percent to $96.9 million. Gilead gets much of its royalty revenue from Roche Holding's sales of Tamiflu flu treatment.

As Roche reported earlier this week, third-quarter Tamiflu sales fell 60 percent following completion of orders for influenza pandemic stockpiles.

Gilead shares closed up 1.9 percent at $43.51 on the Nasdaq prior to the company's financial report, but were just slightly lower at $43.35, in extended trading.