Lilly sees fourth-quarter profit jump 13%, with strong demand for Mounjaro and Zepbound

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Eli Lilly and Co. corporate headquarters. (IBJ file photo)

Eli Lilly and Co. said Tuesday that robust sales of diabetes drug Mounjaro and weight-loss drug Zepbound helped push fourth-quarter profits up by 13%, beating Wall Street estimates.

The Indianapolis based drugmaker posted net income of $2.19 billion for the quarter. Excluding nonrecurring items, adjusted earnings per share of $2.49 beat the FactSet consensus of $2.30.

Revenue for the quarter climbed 28% to $9.35 billion. For the full year, revenue was $34.1 billion, up 20%.

Lilly said it expects revenue for full-year 2024 to land between $40.4 billion and $41.6 billion.

“2023 was a year of tremendous achievement for Lilly, which delivered life-changing medicines to more patients than ever before resulting in strong revenue growth,” CEO David Ricks said in written remarks.

Shares of Lilly climbed 4.2% to $736 in premarket trading. Shares climbed as high as $740, an all-time high.

Mounjaro, the popular diabetes medicine launched in 2022 that has also been prescribed off-label for weight loss, jumped into second place among Lilly’s drugs for revenue. It rang up sales of $2.21 billion in the fourth quarter and $5.16 billion for the full year.  Lilly said “significant demand” for the drug will cause intermittent delays in filling orders.

In the U.S., revenue from Mounjaro was $2.11 billion compared with $256.7 million in fourth quarter of 2022, reflecting higher realized prices due to decreased utilization of savings card programs as access continued to expand, as well as increased demand, Lilly said.

Zepbound, the weight-loss drug that Lilly launched in December using the same active ingredient as Mounjaro, rang up sales of $175.8 million in the fourth quarter. The quarterly results are the first to include sales of Zepbound, which some analysts say could post more than a billion dollars in sales in its first full year on the market, making it an instant blockbuster.

Many of Lilly’s newer products saw strong sales in the fourth quarter, including cancer drug Verzenio (up 42%), diabetes drug Jardiance (up 30%) and cancer drug Tyvyt (up 98%).

The company’s top-selling product in 2023, diabetes drug Trulicity, saw sales drop by 14% to $1.67 billion, signaling a slowdown, although full-year sales of $7.13 billion kept it in first place.

Several older products also saw a slowdown in the fourth quarter, including diabetes drug Humalog (down 33%) and cancer drug Alimta (down 81%).

In the fourth quarter, research and development expenses increased 28% to $2.56 billion, or 27% of revenue. Marketing, selling and administrative expenses increased 17% to $1.92 billion.

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