January 26, 2018 / 1:00 PM / 7 months ago

AbbVie's quarterly profit plunges on $1.14 bln tax charge

Jan 26 (Reuters) - AbbVie Inc, the maker of world’s best-selling prescription drug, said on Friday its fourth-quarter profit plunged as it recorded a $1.14 billion charge due to changes in U.S. tax policy.

Net earnings fell to $52 million, or 3 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $1.39 billion, or 85 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, AbbVie earned $1.48 per share.

The company, however, raised its forecast for 2018 on expected gains from lower taxes. AbbVie now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share to be between $7.33 and $7.43, higher than its prior forecast of $6.37-$6.57.

Net revenue in the quarter rose about 14 percent to $7.74 billion, driven by higher sales for its blockbuster drug Humira, which continued to benefit from AbbVie’s aggressive patent strategy to fend off competition.

The autoimmune drug that has been in the market for almost 15 years raked in $4.89 billion in the quarter, beating consensus sales estimates of $4.83 billion, according to brokerage Evercore ISI. It was not clear how many analysts were polled.

The drugmaker said it expected revenue of about $32 billion in 2018.

Humira, which is used to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, is expected to dominate the U.S. market and remain unrivaled until 2023. In October, the company forecast sales of Humira to touch $21 billion by 2020.

AbbVie’s efforts to boost its cancer drug pipeline by expanding the use of Imbruvica, which accounted for about 9 percent of its revenue in 2017, could be a focus in 2018, analysts said.

Imbruvica earned $708 million in sales, narrowly missing Evercore ISI consensus estimates by $1 million.

AbbVie also said it planned to invest about $2.5 billion over the next five years in capital projects and expand its facilities in the United States. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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