UPDATE 2-Regeneron profit beats expectations on Eylea, Dupixent strength

Drugmaker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O) beat analysts’ estimates for third-quarter profit on Tuesday, boosted by higher sales of its eczema drug, Dupixent, and blockbuster eye drug Eylea. Shares of the company rose 4% to $324 in early trading, after it said its board had authorized a $1 billion buyback of common stock. Eylea sales have continued to rise despite competition from Roche Holding AG (ROG.S) and Novartis AG’s (NOVN.S) Lucentis. But the recent approval of Novartis’ Beovu could eat into sales of Eylea, which is expected to lose its patents in the next five years. Quarterly sales of the drug rose 14% to $1.92 billion, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $1.61 billion, according to Refinitiv estimates. The drug treats age-related degeneration in eyes. “We view this as encouraging growth considering the already previously strong second-quarter,” said RBC analyst Kennen MacKay. “Much bigger focus right now is the overhang of Beovu launch. I think it’s going to be a much bigger problem in the first-quarter of next year,” Kennen said. Meanwhile, Regeneron is expecting Dupixent, developed with Sanofi (SASY.PA), to be its next growth driver and has massed up approvals for three major diseases including asthma and nasal polyps since the drug, was approved in 2017. Dupixent’s quarterly sales more than doubled to $633.1 million, beating expectations of $620.6 million. Separately, the company also reported interim data from a late-stage trial of its drug Libtayo in lung cancer patients. Analysts said the drug could be a rival to Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) Keytruda, which dominates the market for first-line treatment of advanced lung cancer. Excluding one-time items, Regeneron earned $6.67 per share, above the average analyst estimate of $6.36. Net income rose to $669.6 million, or $5.86 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, from $594.7 million, or $5.17 per share, a year earlier. Total revenue rose 23.1% to $2.05 billion.

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