Abbvie’s Humira outlook darkens investors’ moods

Abbvie's chief executive, Richard Gonzalez, has admitted that 2019 will be a “real test” of the group’s strategy to counter Humira sales erosion with new growth products, and the numbers quietly revealed today during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call show why. Mr Gonzalez estimated that in 2019 ex-US sales will fall $2bn thanks to biosimilar entry in Europe and elsewhere, and the company’s guidance is for a 7% increase in US sales – roughly $1bn. This $1bn decline, on aggregate, comes to more than double the $389m decrease foreseen by the EvaluatePharma consensus of sellside forecasts – forecasts which will likely now be revised downwards. Abbvie shares tumbled 7% this morning. Adding to investor disappointment was Mr Gonzalez’s dismissal of any major M&A action, friendly or hostile; he hinted that the benchmark set by the $20.8bn Pharmacyclics acquisition might be the upper limit of what Abbvie would consider. Following disappointing earnings from Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb earlier this week, Abbvie’s financials will not improve investor enthusiasm surrounding the biopharma sector as companies roll out their year-end reports over the next few weeks.

Going, going…sales forecasts for Abbvie's Humira ($bn)
2018 2019e 2020e 2021e 2022e 2023e 2024e
19.9 19.6 19.7 19.7 19.6 16.2 13.2
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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