GSK feels shingles vaccine boost, but shares slip on drugs mix

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's GSK.L third-quarter earnings were lifted by demand for its new shingles vaccine on Wednesday, but the British drugs firm's shares slipped despite an improved outlook as analysts focused on some drugs missing forecasts.

FILE PHOTO: A GlaxoSmithKline logo is seen outside one of its buildings in west London REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo/File Photo

GSK beat market a company-compiled analyst forecast with a 14 percent rise in adjusted earnings per share to 35.5 pence, on sales of 8.09 billion pounds ($10 billion), which were up 6 percent on a constant exchange rate basis.

Although GSK’s shares initially rose on the results, they were down 2 percent to 1,522 pence by 1500 GMT.

Analysts at Liberum, who have a “hold” rating on the stock, said a 1 percent beat on the top line translated to about 6.5 percent on the bottom, driven by lower tax, higher royalties and underlying margin improvement.

But they said the mix was less encouraging, with the newer respiratory products mostly missing forecasts, although on the positive side HIV performed broadly in line with expectations, despite new competition.

Chief Executive Emma Walmsley, who is trying to reinvigorate GSK’s pharmaceutical business, its largest division which has lagged rivals in producing new blockbuster drugs, said stronger commercial execution, new launches, notably shingles vaccine Shingrix, and better cost control was driving GSK’s growth.

“The performance of our new launches is encouraging and this is where we continue to focus our resources,” she said.

“Shingrix continues to have a remarkable start and we have now administered nearly 7 million doses worldwide since launch.”

GSK now expects Shingrix sales of 700-750 million pounds this year, up 100 million pounds from the target given in July.

Led by new R&D chief Hal Barron, GSK is investing where it see results and ending research when data disappoints.

“We are focusing our pipeline better behind priority assets and intervening earlier, including on interim data to stop things that we don’t believe have the bigger chances of success,” Walmsley said.

It halted the development of three products in its pipeline for respiratory, an area in which it leads the market, in the quarter after analyzing data.

But Walmsley said GSK had launched six new medicines in recent years to help to replace its blockbuster Advair, which awaits the arrival of generic competition, and it still had assets in the respiratory pipeline.

And she said she was very pleased to see progress in oncology and immuno-inflammation programs, including new drug candidates for multiple myeloma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The company narrowed its forecast for full-year adjusted earnings growth to 8-10 percent from 7-10 percent previously, whether or not a generic competitor to its respiratory blockbuster Advair is launched in the United States this year.

GSK declared a 19 pence dividend for the quarter, and said it continued to expect 80 pence for the full year.

($1 = 0.7832 pounds)

Editing by Kate Holton and Alexander Smith