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Biogen CEO Says Alzheimer’s Uptake ‘Is Delayed’ But Shares Pop On Beat

Biogen (BIIB)’s chief executive warned Wednesday that sales of Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm will be neither “explosive” nor “linear,” but Biogen stock inched higher on the broad beat.




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In its first full quarter of sales, Aduhelm brought in $300,000. Analysts expected $16 million to $17 million, according to various reports. Chief Executive Michel Vounatsos expressed disappointment in the “delayed uptake.” He expects “minimal” Aduhelm sales this year.

Analysts questioned the company’s multibillion-dollar long-term hope for Aduhelm. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services won’t make a decision on whether to cover Aduhelm until April. So far, about 120 sites in the U.S. have administered Aduhelm.

“This leaves another 800 sites which have yet to do so,” Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat said in a report to clients. Analysts call for $1 billon in 2022 sales of Aduhelm, suggesting 75,000 patients will receive the drug. “It’s my opinion that 2022 U.S. revenues should be closer to about $200 million.”

In morning trading on the stock market today, Biogen stock inched a fraction higher near 269.10. Shares are below their 50-day moving average and 200-day line, according to MarketSmith.com.

Biogen Stock: Earnings Beat, Aduhelm Uncertain

From the 10,000-foot perspective, Biogen’s full quarter was a success. Biogen reported $2.78 billion in third-quarter sales, beating forecasts for $2.67 billion. Adjusted profit came in at $4.77 per share, topping expectations by 66 cents, according to FactSet. Sales fell almost 18% and profit slid more than 15%.

But there were several notable misses in addition to Aduhelm. Sales of Spinraza, a spinal muscular atrophy drug made in partnership with Ionis Pharmaceuticals, came in at $444.1 million, down more than 10%. Analyst called for $484 million, Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond said in his note to clients.

Sales of interferon treatments for multiple sclerosis, Avonex and Plegridy, also came in light.

But sales of Tecfidera, Biogen’s biggest multiple sclerosis treatment, beat expectations with $498.6 million. Analysts called for $402 million, Wedbush analyst Laura Chico said in a report. Still, sales tumbled about 48%. Tecfidera is facing new generic competition in the U.S.

Chico reiterated her neutral rating and 297 price target on Biogen stock.

“While impressive on the face, investors will likely be more concerned about the overall health of the product portfolio,” she said. “Competition remains the prevalent theme across multiple franchises at this point.”

Other Alzheimer’s Efforts On Deck

Biogen raised its guidance for the year. Now, the company expects adjusted profit of $18.85-$19.35 per share and $10.8 billion to $10.9 billion in sales. Analysts called for earnings of $18.52 a share and $10.74 billion in sales.

The company said it expects other Alzheimer’s efforts to boost Aduhelm sales in 2022. Its partner, Eisai, is submitting data to the Food and Drug Administration in the hopes of gaining approval for an Alzheimer’s drug called BAN2401. Like Aduhelm, BAN2401 targets the buildup of an unusual protein in the brain.

“Management believes that the BAN2401 Phase 3 readout will be ‘very important’ for the general uptake of Aduhelm as doctors remain uncertain about the benefit,” Mizuho Securities analyst Salim Syed said in a report. He has a neutral rating and 300 price target on Biogen stock.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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