almost 3 years ago • 3 mins
Pfizer’s quarterly results beat analyst expectations on Tuesday, and the pharma giant’s planning to keep milking this fifteen minutes of fame for all it’s worth.
What does this mean?
Pfizer’s better-than-expected revenue and profit had a lot to do with the little-known vaccine it co-produced with BioNTech – though its non-coronavirus-related drugs beat expectations too. But even the company couldn’t have anticipated just how efficient some vaccine rollouts have been, and it’s now expecting to deliver 1.6 billion doses by the end of the year – way more than it previously predicted. That encouraged it to bump up its earnings forecasts for the rest of 2021, which was just what the doctor – or, uh, its investors – ordered.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Do good things, and good things happen to you.
There are a few reasons Pfizer’s strong run of form looks set to continue. For one thing, it might’ve become America’s go-to after Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine was put on hold over its potential side effects. Those queries have been ironed out, sure, but the damage to its reputation might already be done. For another thing, Pfizer’s market could be about to get a lot bigger: its vaccine is currently being evaluated by European regulators for use among teens, and it’s hoping India might fast-track approval to bring the country’s spiraling crisis to an end.
The bigger picture: Drug stores can’t kick the habit.
The vaccine’s been working wonders every which way you look: CVS Health – which has been doling out jabs to Americans across its network of pharmacies – reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Tuesday. The company raised its forecast for the rest of the year, and that gave its stock the shot in the arm it needed.
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There are few things more calming to Saudi Aramco than a recovering global economy: the oil giant announced its highest quarterly profit in eighteen months on Tuesday.
What does this mean?
Aramco had a tough time of it last year when demand for and the price of oil went into freefall, with its profit collapsing 44% versus the year before. But as the world began to look to the future and investors could almost feel the economy bouncing back, oil’s price started to climb. The dusky nectar, after all, is used in everything from transport to manufacturing, and higher economic activity (all else equal) leads to higher prices – 30% higher this year, to be precise. And that leads to higher earnings for oil producers – like Aramco – that get it out of the ground and sell it on.
Why should I care?
For markets: Dividends are dead, long live dividends.
One of oil companies’ big draws is the regular cash payouts they offer investors – a reward for taking the risk of buying into them. Those dividends matter so much to Aramco’s investors, in fact, that the firm even borrowed money a few months ago to make sure it could keep paying them. And it might have to do the same again: its first-quarter dividend of almost $20 billion was higher than its “free cash flow” – or the amount of cash it generated after making necessary reinvestments into the business. In other words, the only way Aramco could make up the difference would be by dipping into its own cash reserves – an unsustainable long-term move.
The bigger picture: Oil companies keep in lockstep.
Aramco isn’t the only oil major starting to see an improvement: ConocoPhillips announced upbeat results on Tuesday, having benefited from a big freeze in parts of the US that drove gas prices higher. And Total – one of the biggest investors in green energy among energy companies – posted first-quarter earnings that had all but recovered from the pandemic.
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