Genentech's mixed bag
Biotech giant beats expectations for earnings but sales only match forecasts.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Genentech, the word's largest biotech in terms of market capitalization, reported a healthy increase in sales and earnings for the fourth quarter.
Genentech reported earnings per share of 69 cents, excluding charges, for the fourth quarter, up 13 percent from the same period the previous year. Analysts were predicting earnings of 67 cents per share.
The company reported sales of $2.9 billion, up 9 percent from a year ago and in line with analysts' expectations.
For the full year, Genentech (DNA) reported earnings per share of $2.94, without charges, a 32 percent surge from 2006. Sales came in at $11.7 billion, a 26 percent increase from 2006.
Genentech announced 2008 earnings guidance of $3.30 to $3.45 per share, without charges.
Shiv Kapoor, analyst for Ferris, Baker Watts, said that Genentech "continues to be one of the strongest players in the biotech industry" but "expectations are higher than what they delivered."
The biotech's top product was Avastin, a treatment for lung and colorectal cancer. Sales jumped 23 percent in the fourth quarter to more than $600 million. The drug's sales nearly reached $3 billion for the year, a 32 percent jump from 2006.
Nonetheless, Avastin is partially responsible for the company's 20 percent slide in stock last year. In December, an advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration voted 5-4 against approving Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer. The final decision comes out in February.
"The majority expectation is that [Avastin] won't get approved [for breast cancer]," said Jason Kantor, analyst for RBC Capital Markets. "If it did get approved it would have an upside effect."
Ian Clark, executive vice president for Genentech, said, in a conference call with analysts, that "there is definitely room to grow" with Avastin, but "clearly not as much as we would get" with a breast cancer indication.
The company's No. 2 product Rituxan, a treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, rose 10 percent for the year, totaling nearly $2.3 billion. Sales for breast cancer drug Herceptin rose an anemic 4 percent to nearly $1.3 billion for full-year 2007. Sales for Lucentis, a drug to curb age-related vision loss, more than doubled in 2007 to $815 million.