(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc on Tuesday raised its forecast for annual sales of its COVID-19 vaccine by $2 billion to $34 billion on demand for Omicron-targeted boosters, helping allay some investor worries over growth for the vaccinations.
The U.S. drugmaker's shares rose 2.4% to $47.67 in morning trading as its third-quarter profit beat estimates, mainly due to better-than-expected sales of the vaccine.
The upbeat earnings also sent shares of rival COVID-19 vaccine makers higher. Novavax Inc rose 11%, while Moderna Inc gained about 4%.
Sales of the COVID-19 vaccine have eased from pandemic highs on soft demand for the original shots, sparking concerns over demand over the next few years.
In response, Pfizer plans to roughly quadruple the price of the vaccine, which it sells with German partner BioNTech, in the United States once the government stops buying doses and shifts to a private market.
"Our COVID-19 franchises will remain multi-billion-dollar revenue generators for the foreseeable future," Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in prepared remarks ahead of a conference call.
Meanwhile, Pfizer is also expected to face the loss of patents for some key drugs between 2025 and 2030. The company has turned to deals such as its recent $5.4 billion acquisition of Global Blood Therapeutics Inc and its $11.6 billion purchase of Biohaven to beef up its pipeline.
While some will point to the massive Comirnaty beat as unsustainable, "we're not yet throwing in the towel given an emerging pipeline and significant balance sheet flexibility,", said BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan Seigerman.
Third-quarter sales of the COVID-19 vaccine came in at $4.40 billion, blowing past estimates of $2.60 billion.
However, $7.51 billion in sales of the company's COVID-19 pill Paxlovid missed estimates of $7.66 billion.
Pfizer earned $1.78 per share in the third quarter, beating estimates of $1.39.
Separately, the company said its experimental respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine was found to be effective in a late-stage study in preventing severe infections in infants when given to expectant mothers.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)
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