Pfizer’s fourth-quarter profit surges on strong Covid-19 vaccine sales

The New York-based drug maker's net profit jumped to $3.4bn in the three months to the end of December

Pfizer's revenue more than doubled annually to exceed $23.8 billion in the October-December period. AP
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Pharmaceutical company Pfizer reported a more than four-fold increase in its fourth-quarter net profit which was underpinned by an injection of $12.5 billion from sales of its Covid-19 vaccine.

The New York-based company’s net profit rose more than 300 per cent annually to $3.4bn in the three months to the end of December, from $847 million in the same period of 2020. However, it was almost 58.3 per cent down on a quarterly basis.

Its revenue more than doubled annually to more than $23.8bn in the October-December period, falling short of analysts’ estimates of $24.1bn.

Quote
We are proud to say that we have delivered both the first FDA-authorised vaccine against Covid-19 and the first FDA-authorised oral treatment for Covid-19
Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive

The company invested billions of dollars in research and for manufacturing a vaccine against the Covid-19 virus, said Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive.

“In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, we committed to use all of the resources and expertise to help protect populations globally against this deadly virus … as well as to offer treatments to help avoid the worst outcomes when infections do occur.

“Now, less than two years since we made that commitment, we are proud to say that we have delivered both the first FDA-authorised vaccine against Covid-19 [with its partner, BioNTech] and the first FDA-authorised oral treatment for Covid-19,” Mr Bourla said.

The company’s net profit for the 2021 financial year jumped by about 140 per cent to nearly $22bn while sales rose 95 per cent to $81.3bn.

Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla at a press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after a visit to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at a factory in Puurs, Belgium.  Reuters

Pfizer's share price dropped more than 6.2 per cent to $49.9 at 10.30am New York time. The company’s shares have risen 43.4 per cent in the past 12 months.

Last year, Pfizer exceeded its goal of manufacturing three billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines, “a monumental and unprecedented achievement by our global supply colleagues”, Frank D’Amelio, chief financial officer and executive vice president of the company, said.

“We have prudently deployed our capital through multiple business development transactions in recent months to advance our strategies, always with an eye toward bolstering growth in the latter half of this decade and beyond,” Mr D’Amelio said.

Higher earnings have prompted the drug maker to raise its forecast as it aims for record-high sales this year.

The company predicts its revenue will hover between $98bn and $102bn and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $6.3 to $6.5 in 2022.

Pfizer said it expects to sell $32bn worth of Covid-19 shots and $22bn of its antiviral coronavirus treatment pill Paxlovid this year.

“We just concluded a year where we provided tremendous value to society, including to both patients and shareholders,” Mr D’Amelio said.

“Today we are issuing guidance for the coming year which, if achieved, would represent the highest level of annual revenues and adjusted diluted EPS in Pfizer’s long history.”

All units of Pfizer registered good growth in the fourth quarter.

Its vaccine manufacturing arm added more than 58 per cent to overall revenue as sales jumped 595.4 per cent year-on-year to $13.9bn in the fourth quarter.

Its internal medicine unit sales surged 3 per cent to more than $2.2bn in the three-month period. Revenue from the oncology unit increased by almost 7 per cent on an annual basis to more than $3.2bn.

A medical worker shows vials of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination campaign at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium in Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta. AP

The company’s hospital unit contributed almost $1.9bn in sales, about 1 per cent more than in the same period of 2020.

Its rare disease and inflammation and immunology departments added more than $2.1bn in sales, a yearly increase of 2.3 per cent.

Last year, Pfizer paid cash dividends worth $8.7bn, or $1.56 per share of common stock. As of Tuesday, Pfizer’s remaining share repurchase authorisation is $5.3bn but the current financial guidance does not reflect any share repurchases this year.

Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech also started a clinical study to evaluate the safety and tolerability of an Omicron-based vaccine candidate in healthy adults aged between 18 and 55 years.

The study will have three cohorts examining different regimens of the current Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, or an Omicron-based vaccine.

Updated: February 08, 2022, 5:59 PM
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