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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Eli Lilly, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – May 3, 2021 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Eli Lilly and Company (LLY - Free Report) , Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK - Free Report) , GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK - Free Report) , Novartis AG (NVS - Free Report) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report)

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Pharma Stock Updates: Q1 Earnings Edition

This week, large drugmakers Eli Lilly, MerckGlaxo and Novartis, among others, reported their first-quarter results. Most of them reported disappointing results this time around due to the pandemic, and the presence of a related stocking benefit in the year-ago quarter. J&J was allowed to resume vaccinations with its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

Earnings Update: Lilly's first-quarter results were disastrous as it missed estimates for both earnings and sales. Lilly also narrowed its previously issued earnings and sales forecast for 2021 due to lower-than-expected demand for its COVID-19 antibody medicines and higher R&D costs.

Merck's first-quarter results were disappointing as it missed estimates for both earnings and sales.  A decent performance of Keytruda, Lynparza, Bridion and Animal Health was offset by business disruption due to the pandemic, which particularly impacted vaccines. The company maintained its sales and earnings outlook for the year

Glaxo's first-quarter earnings matched estimates while sales missed the same, reflecting COVID-19 related disruptions across all markets. Glaxo maintained its previous guidance for adjusted earnings to decline in 2021 by mid- to high-single digit percentage at CER.

Novartis' earnings and sales missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The pandemic hurt demand for Novartis' products. Sales in the Innovative Medicines were flat at constant currency while that in the Sandoz division declined 9%. The company expects net sales in 2021 to grow in low- to mid-single digits.

J&J COVID-19 Vaccination Resume in the United States.: J&J announced that theFDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") has allowed it to resume vaccinations with its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine

Earlier this month, the FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") had jointly issued a statement to recommend a temporary pause in the use of J&J's vaccine in the United States as they reviewed six reports of "rare and severe" blood clots in a few individuals who had taken the J&J vaccine.

The decision to resume vaccinations followed a recommendation from the U.S. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The committee reviewed some cases of adverse events involving blood clots in combination with low platelet counts in some people one to three weeks after receiving J&J's vaccine. J&J has updated the Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheets to include important information about diagnosis and management of the blood clot issues.

Pfizer Buys Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, Expands Anti-Infectives Pipeline: Pfizer acquired private biotech, Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, which has expanded its anti-infectives pipeline with the addition of novel antifungal candidate, fosmanogepix. Fosmanogepix is in a phase II study for the treatment of invasive fungal infections. In addition, the acquisition adds Amplyx's early-stage pipeline that includes potential antiviral and antifungal therapies to Pfizer's portfolio.

Merck Deals With India-Based Drugmakers to Expand COVID Drug Production: Merck announced non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five India-based generic drugmakers to accelerate availability of molnupiravir, its investigation oral antiviral for COVID-19, in the country and other low- and middle-income countries once the candidate gets emergency approval from the FDA. Merck is developing molnupiravir in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in a phase III study for the treatment of non-hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19.

Large Cap Pharmaceuticals Industry 5YR % Return

In the last five trading sessions, all the stocks were in the red except AbbVie, which recorded a gain of 0.8%. Merck declined the most (5.5%).

In the past six months, Lilly recorded the maximum gain (38.4%) while Merck declined the most (4.0%).

(See the last pharma stock roundup here: JNJ's Q1 Earnings & Sales Beat, RHHBY Sales, & Other Updates)

What's Next in the Pharma World?

Watch out for Pfizer's first-quarter results and regular pipeline and regulatory updates next week.

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Each was hand-picked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2020. Each comes from a different sector and has unique qualities and catalysts that could fuel exceptional growth.

Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

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