Flu vaccine sales boosted by launch of high-price shot
Dupixent sales continue to grow at more than 40% rate
1.6 bln euros written off value of Synthorx drug
Shares open 2% higher
(Adds shares, write-down on development asset)
By Ludwig Burger
Oct 28 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi on Friday forecast faster earnings growth this year on strong demand for its bestselling drug Dupixent and for its flu vaccines, spurring a rise in its battered share price.
Sanofi said it now expects 2022 adjusted earnings per share to grow by about 16%, not taking into account an expected positive currency impact of between 9.5% and 10.5%. It had previously forecast growth of 15%.
It also reported a 26.5% rise in third-quarter business operating income, or adjusted earnings before interest and tax, to 4.5 billion euros ($4.5 billion), well ahead of an average analyst estimate of 4.17 billion.
Sanofi shares had plunged in August after disappointing trial results of a once-promising breast cancer drug candidate, heightening concerns about its development pipeline, while investors also fretted over legal claims that heartburn drug Zantac caused cancer.
The shares have not recovered much and Credit Suisse analysts have said Sanofi is trading about one third below its European peers, relative to estimated 2023 earnings.
Finance chief Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon, who has described the discount as grossly overdone, said on Friday that Sanofi would follow through on its strategy.
"We know we have some headwinds and we are there to fight them and to demonstrate to our shareholders that we can create more value," he told journalists on a call.
The shares jumped 2% at the open.
But in a further development setback, 1.6 billion euros were written off the value of the most advanced drug project of Synthorx, a U.S. biotech firm Sanofi agreed to acquire for $2.5 billion in 2019. The cancer drug would come to market later than hoped, it said.
As a result, quarterly net income fell 10% to 2.1 billion euros.
Revenue from exzema and asthma drug Dupixent, jointly developed with Regeneron, jumped by a currency-adjusted 44.5% to 2.3 billion euros in the quarter, soundly beating an analyst consensus of 2.1 billion.
The company is pursuing further growth for Dupixent in inflammatory skin conditions and smoker's lung, where keenly awaited trial data is expected in the first half of 2023.
Sales from influenza vaccines jumped by a currency-adjusted 32.4% to 2 billion euros, surpassing an analyst consensus of 1.6 billion, on swift uptake of a more expensive new high-dose shot.
CFO de Chatillon said the company also benefited from bringing forward the seasonal production ramp-up and distribution but added that overall appetite in the U.S. population for flu shots was low.
A strong U.S. dollar also boosted the value of overseas group revenue.
($1 = 1.0015 euros) (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Holmes)