AbbVie’s 2023 profit forecast misses as Humira faces heat from rivals

The logo for AbbVie is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York CityThe logo for AbbVie is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

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Feb 9 (Reuters) – AbbVie Inc (ABBV.N) on Thursday forecast 2023 profit below Wall Street expectations, in the first outlook since its blockbuster arthritis drug Humira faced competition from cheaper biosimilars in the United States early this year.

The company said it expected adjusted profit in the range of $10.70 to $11.10 per share for the full year, compared with analysts' average estimate of $11.65, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Investors have feared the company's guidance could be below consensus estimates, and this was "not a major surprise", SVB Securities analyst David Risinger said. Shares of the company were flat at $144.61 in choppy premarket trading.

Most analysts are expecting the stock to be driven by management's comments on Humira sales this year during the investor conference call.

AbbVie's weak forecast suggests that Humira rivals could nibble away at the blockbuster drug's market share at a faster pace this year than analysts' projections. Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) recently launched Amjevita, the first such competition for Humira in the U.S., at a 5% and 55% discount to the drug's monthly price of $6,922.

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At least seven other Humira biosimilars are expected this summer and could debut with discounted prices.

In the fourth quarter, Humira sales dropped 26.5% to $573 million in international markets such as Europe, where it already faces competition from multiple cheaper versions.

Overall, Humira sales rose 4.6% to $5.58 billion, in line with estimates, lifted by growth in the U.S. market.

The drugmaker has been hoping newer immunology drugs Skyrizi and Rinvoq can help replace the lost revenue from Humira.

Skyrizi sales of $1.58 billion beat estimates of $1.52 billion, while Rinvoq missed with $770 million in sales compared with expectations of $816.14 million.

Excluding items, AbbVie earned $3.60 per share in the fourth quarter, beating analysts' average estimates of $3.56 per share.

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