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Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s (ALXN - Analyst Report) first quarter 2013 earnings (excluding special items but including stock-based compensation expense) of 57 cents per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 5 cents and the year-ago adjusted earnings by 19 cents per share.

Higher product sales boosted first quarter earnings. Including one-time items, first quarter 2013 earnings came in at 41 cents per share, up 78.3%.

Alexion’s revenues jumped 38% to approximately $338.9 million in the first quarter of 2013 driven by strong Soliris sales. Revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $335 million.

Quarterly Results

Alexion’s only marketed product, Soliris, is available for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a rare genetic blood disorder and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), an ultra-rare genetic disorder. Soliris continued to perform well with new patient additions in the PNH indication. The successful label expansion into the aHUS indication boosted revenues further.

Adjusted operating expenses climbed 37.1% to $164.4 million in the first quarter of 2013. The increase was attributable to a rise in both research and development (R&D) expenses (up 57.7%) and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses (up 25.7%). The jump in R&D expenses was attributable to the company’s efforts to develop its pipeline.

Pipeline Update

Alexion currently has several candidates in clinical development focusing on different areas. The company is also working on expanding Soliris’ label into additional indications like Shiga-toxin producing e. coli hemolytic uremic syndrome (STEC-HUS), neuromyelitis optica and myasthenia gravis.

Alexion’s pipeline also includes asfotase alfa (hypophosphatasia), ALXN1102/ALXN1103 (hematology), and ALXN1007 (inflammatory disorders).

Guidance Raised

Apart from announcing financial results for the first quarter, Alexion raised its outlook for 2013. The company raised its revenue guidance to $1.505–$1.520 billion from the previous forecast of $1.490–$1.505 billion.

The company also raised its adjusted earnings guidance for 2013 from $2.82–$2.92 per share to $2.87 to $2.97 per share. Soliris should continue performing well, driving growth at Alexion. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 pegs earnings at $2.63 per share on revenues of $1.5 billion.

Alexion carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Favorably placed stocks include UCB SA (UCBJF), Athersys, Inc. (ATHX - Snapshot Report) and Celgene Corporation (CELG - Analyst Report). While UCB and Athersys, Inc. carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Celgene carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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