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FTSE 100: GSK raises guidance after strong demand for shingles vaccine

The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) logo is seen on top of GSK Asia House in Singapore
Sales of the Shingrix vaccine by GSK have more than doubled to £731m. Photo: Reuters/Loriene Perera

Pharmaceutical firm GSK (GSK.L) has raised its full-year guidance thanks to strong sales of its shingles vaccine Shingrix.

The drugs giant reported a 19% rise in total sales, reaching £6.9bn, with quarterly figures beating expectations for £6.3bn.

Sales of Shingrix more than doubled at constant exchange rates to £731m, marking a recovery after it suffered from supply shortages due to COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.

Meanwhile, sales of HIV treatments were up 7% at constant exchange rates to £1.4m, however, it warned that sales of coronavirus solutions will be “substantially lower” in the second half.

The strong performance now means that GSK expects revenues to grow between 6% and 8% this year, up from its previous forecast of 5% to 7%. Its new guidance for adjusted operating profit growth also came in at 13% to 15%, up from the previous 12% to 14%.

Emma Walmsley, GSK chief executive, said the company was strengthening its pipeline of future drugs, highlighting a recent positive trial result for its vaccine candidate for the respiratory syncytial virus.

“This is GSK’s first set of results as a newly focused biopharma company, and we have delivered an excellent second-quarter performance, with strong growth in specialty medicines, including HIV, and a record quarter for our shingles vaccine Shingrix,” she said.

Shares rose 0.7% in London on the back of the news. It reported an adjusted earnings per share (EPS) gain of 23% to 34.7p, and expects no change to its dividend of 61.25p a share for the full-year 2022.

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The trading update was GSK’s first set of results since the demerger of its consumer healthcare business. It came as its spin-off Haleon (HLN.L) also published its first figures as an independent company after listing on the FTSE 100 following its separation.

The company, which is behind the Panadol and Sensodyne toothpaste brands, reported a jump in prices for some over-the-counter drugs. Prices rose 5.5% in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, compared to just 2.1% in North America and 3.7% in Asia Pacific.

This helped the business post a 13.4% rise in revenue in the first six months of the financial year to £5.2bn.

Haleon shares rose more than 2% on the day.

“Haleon delivered strong growth in the first half continuing the positive momentum seen since the start of year,” chief executive Brian McNamara said.

“This reflects the strength of our portfolio, continued innovation and excellent commercial execution across our markets.”

The consumer health group said sales had risen partly due to higher prices, but that a "strong cold and flu season" helped its respiratory unit, while its pain relief products and vitamins also performed well as a result.

Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “GSK’s first set of results without its consumer healthcare arm Haleon under the umbrella were promising. The group’s capitalising on a return to more normal buying patterns following the pandemic as lower priority vaccines for conditions like Shingles are back in demand and the antibiotics market recovers.

“GSK’s also making good on promises to grow specialty medicines through a portfolio of new HIV drugs, which contributed over a third to the division’s revenue growth in the second quarter.

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She added: “The rosy results received tepid reaction from markets as worries about a looming prolonged downturn continued to weigh.

“While GSK is in many ways insulated from the impact of a recession – healthcare falls firmly into the essentials bucket – the group’s not immune. Drug pricing remains a hot topic for debate in the group’s largest market, the US. As lawmakers look for ways to ease the cost of living crisis, they could put big pharma back in the hot-seat.”

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