| NEW YORK, April 27
NEW YORK, April 27 Bristol-Myers Squibb Co
on Thursday posted better-than-expected first-quarter
earnings, helped by growth from cancer drugs Opdivo and Yervoy
and blood thinner Eliquis.
The U.S. drugmaker, which has faced increasing competition
for blockbuster Opdivo as well as pressure from activist
investors, also raised its expectations for its full-year
earnings, reversing a cut to its outlook it made in the previous
Opdivo sales rose 60 percent in the quarter, while Eliquis
and Yervoy sales rose 50 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
Opdivo and Yervoy are immuno-oncology drugs, which target the
body's immune system to fight cancer.
Bristol-Myers reported profit of $1.57 billion, or 94 cents
a share, in the quarter, up from $1.20 billion, or 71 cents a
share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Bristol-Myers said it earned 84
cents a share. Wall Street analysts, on average, had expected
the company to earn 74 cents a share.
Revenue rose 12 percent to $4.93 billion, which was also
higher than the average analyst estimate of $4.74 billion.
The company had warned last quarter that the potential for
earlier-than-expected lung cancer competition from Merck & Co
Inc could sap Opdivo's earnings potential this year.
Merck had filed for speedy U.S. approval of its
immuno-oncology drug Keytruda as an initial lung cancer
treatment in combination with chemotherapy. That coincided with
Bristol-Myers' decision not to seek accelerated approval for a
combination of Opdivo and Yervoy in first-line lung cancer.
But Opdivo outperformed scaled-back sales expectations for
the quarter, generating revenue of $1.13 billion, up from $704
million last year.
The company increased its forecast for 2017 earnings to a
range of $2.85 a share to $3 a share, up from its previous
forecast range of $2.70 a share to $2.90 a share.
In February, the company added three independent directors
to its board, a move it said was supported by activist investor
Jana Partners, which had built a position in the company.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has also taken a stake in
Bristol-Myers shares closed at $53.77 on the New York Stock
Exchange on Wednesday. They are down around 8 percent in 2017.
(Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Bill Rigby)