Pfizer forecasts higher COVID-19 vaccine, pill sales in 2022, but analysts expected more

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Pfizer Inc. forecast $54 billion in full-year sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and antiviral pill on Tuesday that fell short of lofty Wall Street estimates, sending its shares down four per cent.

Although Pfizer raised its forecast for the vaccine, developed with Germany’s BioNTech, by $1 billion to $32 billion, the drugmaker warned that it does not expect final sales for the year to top that figure by much.

Analysts have forecast sales of $33.79 billion for the vaccine in 2022, according to Refinitiv data.

“There is less potential upside to this guidance through the year, compared to the situation we faced in 2021 when the vaccine was newly available and few people had received any doses of the vaccine,” Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio said in prepared remarks.

The company, however, said its forecast for oral COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid could increase. Pfizer said it expects $22 billion in 2022 sales, compared with estimates of $22.88 billion, according to 10 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

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J.P.Morgan analyst Chris Schott said in a research note that it is unclear whether Pfizer’s sales from its COVID-19 products are sustainable in the long term. Pipeline development and capital deployment will be key for the drugmaker to outperform expectations, he said.

Overall, Pfizer forecast sales of $98 billion to $102 billion for the year, also below estimates of $105.48 billion. The sales outlook, however, pointed to a second straight year of record sales for the drugmaker.

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The vaccine, based on the mRNA technology that is also behind rival Moderna’s shots, is used in more than 160 countries including the United States.

Pfizer aims to make more than four billion doses of the shot in 2022. That compares with last year’s three billion doses.

The company reported $36.8 billion in sales of the vaccine in 2021.

Paxlovid has shown promise in cutting hospitalization and deaths in high-risk patients, and the company expects to produce at least 120 million courses of the pill this year.

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