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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights GSK, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and AstraZeneca

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – August 1, 2022 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: GSK plc GSK, Merck MRK, Pfizer PFE, Sanofi SNY and AstraZeneca AZN.

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Pharma Stock Roundup: Q2 Earnings Edition

Last week, GSK plc, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and AstraZeneca announced second-quarter results. Pfizer, Merck and Sanofi beat estimates for both earnings and sales. While Merck, AstraZeneca and Glaxo raised their sales guidance for the year, Sanofi upped its earnings growth expectations.

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

Pfizer's second-quarter results were better than expected as it beat estimates for both earnings and sales, driven by strong contributions of its COVID products, Paxlovid pill and Comirnaty vaccine. Pfizer maintained its previously issued sales guidance for 2022 as well as its forecast for Comirnaty and Paxlovid. Pfizer's better expectations for operational growth were offset by incremental potential headwinds from currency impact, forcing management to keep the 2022 sales guidance intact. However, the company lifted the lower end of its adjusted earnings per share guidance.

Merck also beat estimates for both earnings and sales. An ongoing recovery from the pandemic and strong global underlying demand across its business, particularly in oncology and vaccines, led to improved sales in the quarter. Keytruda, the largest product in Merck's portfolio, generated sales of $5.25 billion in the quarter, rising 26% year over year. Merck's COVID pill also contributed significantly to top-line growth, generating sales of $1.77 billion. Merck raised its sales guidance for 2022 while tightening its earnings expectations.

Sanofi's quarterly results were impressive as it beat estimates for both earnings and sales. Blockbuster immunology medicine, Dupixent continued its outstanding performance in the quarter. Sales of vaccines recovered in the quarter. Sanofi raised its financial guidance for 2022. The company now expects adjusted earnings to grow approximately 15% at CER in 2022 versus the prior expectation of an increase in the low double-digit range.

GSK's second quarter results were mixed as it beat estimates for earnings but missed the same for sales. Sales of the Specialty Medicines segment were up 35% at CER, driven by consistent growth across all therapy areas. Vaccine sales rose 3% at CER, mainly driven by the recovery in Shingrix sales. Shingrix sales more than doubled at CER during the quarter due to strong demand in the United States and Germany. Glaxo raised its sales guidance for 2022 to 6% to 8% from the previously provided range of 5% to 7%.

AstraZeneca's second-quarter results were encouraging as it beat estimates for both earnings and sales Product sales growth was driven by higher sales of key medicines across Oncology and CVRM units like Tagrisso and Farxiga, which offset some negative impacts from the pandemic and slower sales growth in China. The rare disease drugs added following the Alexion acquisition also aided sales growth. AstraZeneca raised its sales expectations for 2022 due to better sales expectations for COVID-19 medicine, Evusheld and continued strong performance of its business. The company kept its profit forecast unchanged.

FDA's Priority Tag to AstraZeneca's Enhertu sBLA: The FDA accepted and granted priority review to AstraZeneca and partner and Daiichi Sankyo's supplemental biologics license application (sBLA) for Enhertu. The sBLA seeks approval of Enhertu in previously treated patients with HER2-low unresectable and/or metastatic breast cancer with hormone receptor (HR) positive or HR-negative disease. The FDA's decision is expected in the fourth quarter of 2022. The sBLA was based on data from the DESTINY-Breast04 study, which showed that Enhertu demonstrated a survival benefit in patients with HER2-low metastatic breast cancer.

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency gave a positive opinion, recommending marketing authorization of long-acting C5 complement inhibitor Ultomiris for generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). Ultomiris was approved for adults with gMG who are AChR antibody-positive in the United States in April 2022.

The CHMP also recommended approving AstraZeneca's Tezspire (tezepelumab) as an add-on maintenance treatment of adult and pediatric patients (aged 12 years and older) with severe asthma. Tezspire was approved in the United States for a similar indication in December 2021.

The NYSE ARCA Pharmaceutical Index rose 1.03% in the last five trading sessions.

Large Cap Pharmaceuticals Industry 5YR % Return

In the last five trading sessions, AstraZeneca rose the most (2.0%) while Pfizer declined the most (0.9%).

In the past six months, Lilly rose the most (34.8%) while Roche declined the most (12.8%).

(See the last pharma stock roundup here: JNJ, NVS Q2 Earnings, GSK Consumer Unit Spin-Off)

What's Next in the Pharma World?

Keep a tab on Q2 earnings of Lilly, Bayer and Novo Nordisk and regular pipeline and regulatory updates next week.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.


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