April 24, 2018 / 10:39 AM / a year ago

Eli Lilly's profit beats on strong sales of diabetes, cancer drugs

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N) lifted its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday after comfortably beating estimates for the first quarter, largely due to strong sales of its diabetes and cancer drugs and lower expenses.

The upbeat results soothed some investor concerns after U.S. FDA advisers late on Monday voted against approving a higher dose of its rheumatoid arthritis drug.

The company’s shares rose as much as 1.6 percent in early trading as sales of most of its promising drugs, including diabetes drug Trulicity and cancer treatment Alimta, beat estimates.

Its best-selling diabetes drug, Humalog, which faces competition from biosimilars, brought in $791.7 million in sales, beating the consensus estimate of $680 million, according to brokerage Credit Suisse.

Sales of the newly launched Trulicity were $678.3 million, beating the estimate of $614 million. Alimta, which is being tested in combination with Merck’s (MRK.N) Keytruda to treat a type of lung cancer, raked in about $500 million, also beating analysts’ estimates.

However, sales of its psoriasis drug, Taltz, were disappointing, falling short of analysts’ estimate by about $50 million.

Lilly reported net income of $1.22 billion, or $1.16 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of $110.8 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.34 per share, beating the average estimate of $1.13. The company’s operating expenses fell 5.3 percent to $2.67 billion in this quarter.

Lilly raised its 2018 profit forecast to $5.10 to $5.20 per share from $4.81 to $4.91 per share, saying the increase was partly due to lower Medicaid utilization and more commercial insurance coverage for several products.

Reporting by Akankshita Mukhopadhyay in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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