AbbVie beats estimates as Humira sales fall less than feared

(Reuters) – Drugmaker AbbVie Inc’s quarterly revenue beat Wall Street estimates on Thursday, as the decline in sales of its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira was not as steep as expected.

The company also raised its adjusted earnings forecast for the year to between $8.73 and $8.83 per share from $8.65 to $8.75 to reflect continued business momentum.

Humira, which has long been the world’s best-selling prescription medicine, saw sales fall for the first time in years largely due to competition from new, cheap rivals.

The drug brought in revenue of $4.45 billion in the first quarter, a fall of 5.6 percent from last year but ahead of the $4.38 billion forecast by eight analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Net earnings fell to $2.46 billion, or $1.65 per share, in the three months ended March 31, from $2.78 billion, or $1.74 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, AbbVie earned $2.14 per share. Analysts on average had expected $2.05, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net revenue dropped 1.3 percent to $7.83 billion but beat the average analyst estimate of $7.75 billion.

(Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)