Bristol-Myers Profit Misses Estimate as Pandemic Takes Toll

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. fell after the company joined other drugmakers in citing the effect of surging Covid-19 cases at the start of the year for results showing first-quarter earnings that missed analyst estimates.

The New York-based company reported $1.74 in adjusted earnings per share on Thursday, falling short of the $1.81 average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue was $11.1 billion, according to a statement. That narrowly missed analysts’ estimates of $11.2 billion. The shares fell 4.3% to $63.19 at 10:57 a.m. in New York trading.

The pandemic mostly impacted products administered in medical centers, according to David Elkins, the company’s chief financial officer. Treatments that could be taken at home remained resilient, he said. Excluding pandemic-related buying patterns from the prior year, first-quarter revenue grew 8%, according to the statement.

“It was a really strong quarter despite the challenging Covid environment,” Elkins said in an interview.

Merck & Co. also reported quarterly earnings and sales that trailed Wall Street expectations on Thursday, citing an early-in-the-year pandemic surge. A day earlier, Amgen Inc. cited the virus’s effect in reporting a drop in its product sales.

Revenue for Bristol’s Revlimid and Pomalyst, treatments gained through the acquisition of Celgene Inc. in 2019 that target multiple myeloma, grew 1% and 8% respectively from a year earlier.

However, revenue for Opdivo, an immuno-oncology drug used to help treat the skin cancer melanoma, fell 3% from a year earlier. The company is awaiting a Food and Drug Administration ruling on the drug’s use in liver cancer patients after it failed to improve survival in confirmatory clinical trials. A ruling could come as soon as Thursday, the final day of a three-day FDA oncologic advisory committee meeting.

Elkins said the company is confident on Opdivo’s return to growth, and that Bristol-Myers is fully engaged with the FDA in this process.

Expanded Pipeline

The company has also made advances in expanding their pipeline of new drugs. The FDA has accepted Bristol’s application for Mavacamten, a treatment for patients with symptomatic obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart muscle to enlarge.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has raised concerns about business consolidation being a driver of drug price increases. Last month the FTC announced plans to work with other U.S. and international regulators to review their approach to pharmaceuticals mergers.

In a conference call Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Caforio said it was difficult to speculate on the evolving position of the FTC. “We’ll always take competition issues into account when we look at opportunities,” he said. “But I don’t see that as limiting our ability to continue to execute a very differentiated business development strategy.”

Late-Stage Trials

The company recently announced promising results results in two late-stage trials for its experimental drug deucravacitinib, which is a TYK2 inhibitor for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Bristol-Myers is aware of speculation on a potential Adcom for TYK2 inhibitors looking at issues of safety, Samit Hirawat, the company’s chief medical officer, said on Thursday’s conference call. If there is an Adcom certainly we’ll be prepared for that,” he said.

“At the current time we are in discussion in terms of preparing the file and getting it to the regulators, and moving it forward as soon as possible,” Hirawat added.

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