Today: Gilead Sciences announces quarterly and annual financial gains after one of the Foster City biotech giant's most high-profile drug launches. Also: Microsoft names internal candidate as CEO, Silicon Valley mainstay as chairman.
The Lead: Gilead earnings jump, with big Sovaldi sales still on horizon
Gilead Sciences announced financial gains for the fourth quarter and full year of 2013 on Tuesday, even though the Foster City company's latest blockbuster drug debuted just a month before the end of the year, signaling even more gains ahead.
Gilead announced fourth-quarter profits of $791.4 million, or 47 cents a share, on revenues of $3.12 billion, with net income gaining 3.8 percent and revenues jumping 21 percent from the same quarter a year ago. For the full year, Gilead posted gains from 2012 of 15 percent in revenues and 18.5 percent in profits to net income of $3.07 billion on revenues of $11.2 billion.
"Overall, 2013 was a very exciting year with significant milestones achieved across the organization," CEO John Martin said in Tuesday's conference call.
Gilead's financial results included only a tiny boost from the biggest milestone for the company in 2013, hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which has been approved by American and European regulators and is expected to produce huge revenues for the company. The drug was approved by U.S. regulators in December and produced revenues of $139.4 million in the short time Gilead had to sell Sovaldi, which cures hepatitis C at rates never before seen.
With the recent approval, Gilead did not provide projections for 2014 sales of Sovaldi, however: The company projected total product sales of $11.3 billion to $11.5 billion without any help from the new drug, which has already launched in Britain, Germany and France, Martin said Tuesday. Gilead recorded total product sales of $10.8 billion in 2013, with the rest of its revenues derived from royalty payments and other revenues; the company derives the bulk of its revenues from sales of drugs meant to help fight off HIV.
Analysts project that sales of Sovaldi could eventually rival Gilead's HIV drug sales, though. Robert W. Baird analyst Brian Skorney proclaimed Tuesday that Sovaldi will "exceed the highest single year sales of any pharmaceutical product in history."
"There is almost no way, barring an extreme reduction in volume over the next few weeks, that Gilead won't hit at least $1 billion in sales in 1Q14 (consensus is at $336 million), and that really only accounts for U.S. sales," Skorney wrote. He predicted that Sovaldi would generate more than $5 billion in revenues in 2014 for Gilead, and increased his rating to "Outperform" with a $103 price target.
Analysts on average expect $3.14 billion in Sovaldi sales in 2014, according to Bloomberg News, but projections have ranged as high as $7 billion for the drug, which costs more than $80,000 for a full course. Gilead obtained the hepatitis C treatment in the $11 billion acquisition of Pharmasset in 2011.
Investors have already bid Gilead up to record highs in response to its hepatitis C offering, which an executive called "one of the greatest breakthroughs to cure people and get rid of a very serious virus" in Tuesday's conference call. Gilead stock more than doubled in 2013 and has continued to hit records in 2014, moving as high as $84.40 in intraday trading and closing Tuesday with a 4.1 percent gain at $82.02. Shares were calm in after-hours trading following the announcement.
SV150 market report: Stocks bounce back as Microsoft names new CEO
Wall Street turned around to gains Tuesday after large declines Monday continued overall 2014 weakness, and tech stocks led the way, with the Nasdaq experiencing the biggest percentage gain among the three major U.S. stock indexes and the SV150 gaining more than 1.1 percent on the day.
The biggest news in tech took place outside Silicon Valley, as Microsoft finally named a new CEO after announcing the departure of Steve Ballmer in August. The Washington tech giant will promote Satya Nadella from within, giving the top spot to an executive who has led the company's efforts in cloud computing, a departure for a company built on installed software. "Going forward, it's a mobile-first, cloud-first world," Nadella said in a video introduction Tuesday, indicating his desire to refocus Microsoft away from the declining personal-computer industry. Microsoft also announced that co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates would step down from his chairman post in order to play a more active role as an adviser to Nadella; Gates was replaced by Silicon Valley veteran John Thompson, who previously ran Mountain View security software company Symantec and is now CEO of San Jose software company Virtual Instruments. Microsoft also announced a $15 million investment in Foursquare that will allow the larger company to leverage Foursquare's location-sharing technology in other ventures. Microsoft stock dropped 0.4 percent on the day to $36.35.
Apple gained 1.5 percent to $508.79 while fighting its antitrust monitor in court and donating $100 million to a White House effort. Facebook increased 2.1 percent to $62.75 on the 10th anniversary of the social network's launch, and rival Twitter gained 1.6 percent to $66.32 a day ahead of its first earnings report as a public company. Netflix added 0.4 percent to $405.91 after announcing plans to generate $400 million in new debt as part of $3 billion in content-procurement aims, along with a renewal of Emmy-winning "House of Cards" for a third season. Adobe gained 2.8 percent to $59.72 and pushed out an emergency fix to its Flash player plug-in, while Tesla increased 0.9 percent to $178.73 as Chinese consumers reacted positively to its pricing strategy in that country. Silicon Valley stalwarts Cisco and Google entered into a new patent-licensing agreement Tuesday, with Cisco increasing 1.2 percent to $21.80 after, and Google gaining 0.4 percent to $1,138.16.
Up: Yelp, Salesforce, Gilead, SolarCity, Adobe, Pandora, Zynga, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Juniper, Apple, SunPower, SanDisk, AMD, Cisco, VMware, Hewlett-Packard, eBay, Tesla
Down: Symantec, LinkedIn, Intel, Ruckus
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 17.05, or 1.17 percent, to 1,476.84
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 34.56, or 0.86 percent, to 4,031.52
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 72.44, or 0.47 percent, to 15,445.24
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 13.31, or 0.76 percent, to 1,755.2
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.