Gilead Sciences Inc. Reaps a Big Q1 Harvest From Harvoni

Source: Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences provided a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy day for the broader market. The biotech announced its first-quarter results after the market closed. Shares jumped more than 3% in after-hours trading on Gilead's better-than-expected results. Here are the highlights.

By the numbersGilead reported first-quarter revenue of $7.6 billion, a 52% increase over the $5 billion in revenue from the same period in 2014. This figure trounced the average analysts' estimate of $6.92 billion.

GAAP first-quarter earnings for the biotech were $4.3 billion, or $2.76 per diluted share-- well above the $2.2 billion, or $1.33 per diluted share, reported for the first quarter of 2014. Gilead reported non-GAAP earnings for the quarter of $4.6 billion, or $2.94 per diluted share, compared with $2.5 billion, or $1.48 per diluted share, in the same period last year. This earnings result handily beat the consensus analyst expectation of $2.32 per share.

Operating expenses were higher, but not nearly enough to offset the surge in revenue. Gilead reported non-GAAP research and development expenses of $651 million -- a nearly 17% year-over-year increase. Non-GAAP selling, general, and administrative costs climbed 20% to $600 million during the first quarter of 2015.

Behind the numbers Consensus expectations called for Gilead's hepatitis C drugs Harvoni and Sovaldi to bring in around $3.5 billion in first-quarter sales. Those expectations proved to be far too pessimistic. Harvoni generated more than $3.5 billion in sales by itself. Sovaldi kicked in another $972 million in revenue for the quarter.

Gilead's strategy with its hepatitis C drugs was to aggressively expand availability of the drug in the face of competition from AbbVie . The biotech has spent considerable effort negotiating with U.S. and European payers over the past few months. This strategy certainly appears to have paid off based on the first-quarter results.

The strong growth for Harvoni more than made up for less impressive sales for Gilead's HIV drugs. Truvada, Atripla, Stribild, Complera/Eviplera, and Viread combined for sales of $2.4 billion in the first quarter. That was nearly 9% higher than the combined sales from the same quarter last year -- a solid but not spectacular increase.

Several of Gilead's less-heralded drugs also experienced solid growth.Cardiovascular drugs Letairis and Ranexa combined for sales of $268 million, up more than 14% year over year. Meanwhile, blood-cancer drug Zydelig generated first-quarter sales of $26 million. That reflected a nearly 35% jump over the $17 million in sales from fourth quarter of 2014, Zydelig's first full quarter on the market.

Looking aheadThis year now looks to hold brighter prospects than Gilead initially thought. The company upped its full-year revenue guidance to a range of $28 billion to $29 billion. Both ends of this range are $2 billion higher than the full-year projections Gilead provided last quarter. However, the biotech maintained its previous full-year earnings guidance of $0.82 to $0.87 per diluted share.

With continued strong sales for Harvoni and a price of less than 10 times forward earnings, Gilead just might regain the affection of investors in the near term. What the biotech does with its $14.5 billion (and growing) stockpile ofcash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities could prove to be an even more significant attention-grabber over the next few months.

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Keith Speights owns shares of Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Gilead Sciences. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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