Eli Lilly swung to a loss in the first quarter but sales and adjusted profit beat estimates amid strong demand for new drugs including a diabetes injection.
The drugmaker posted a net loss of $110.8 million, or 10 cents per share, for the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of $440.1 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, per-share earnings were 98 cents a share, above the 96 cents a share expected in a FactSet survey of analysts. Revenue for the period rose to $5.23 billion from $4.87 billion, topping estimates of $5.215 billion.
“Lilly’s new product launches … led the company to a strong quarter of volume-driven revenue growth,” Lilly CEO David A. Ricks said in a news release. “We achieved this growth while maintaining our commitment to expand margins and improve productivity.”
Ricks singled out the Trulicity diabetes treatment and the psoriasis drug Taltz. Trulicity, an injectable treatment that competes with Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster Victoza, brought in $372.9 million during the quarter — ahead of the analyst consensus of $328 million — while Taltz generated $96.6 million in sales.
Revenue from Lilly’s biggest-selling diabetes drug, Humalog, rose 17% to $708.4 million, above the consensus estimate of $638 million. “We are encouraged by another solid performance from Lilly’s overall diabetes franchise,” Leerink Partners analyst Seamus Fernandez said in a client note.
Other strong contributors to a 9% increase in pharmaceutical sales were the Cyramza lung cancer treatment ($171.2 million in sales, up 31%) and two other diabetes treatments — Basaglar ($46.0 million, up 321%) and Jardiance ($74.0 million, up 94%).
Animal health revenue rose 2% to $769.4 million due to the acquisition of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica’s U.S. feline, canine and rabies vaccine portfolio.
“The progress we made in the first quarter continues the positive momentum we’ve built over the past few years,” Ricks said. “We remain on track to sustain a steady flow of innovation that has the potential to improve patients’ lives and create value for shareholders.”