October 25, 2018 / 12:01 PM / 25 days ago

UPDATE 2-Celgene's third-quarter results beat as Otezla sales soar

* Otezla Q3 sales $432 mln vs. $383.31 mln estimate

* Performance highlights management credibility - analyst

* Co hikes FY 2018 sales and adj. EPS forecast (Adds share movement, analyst comment, background, forecast details)

By Tamara Mathias and Aakash B

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Celgene Corp reported a better-than-expected third-quarter profit and raised its sales forecast for 2018, as demand for psoriasis drug Otezla surged, marking a comeback from a year ago when sales of the treatment badly missed expectations.

The New Jersey-based company's shares rose 3.3 percent to $77.14 before the opening bell on Thursday.

"The results were very solid and a continued improvement in execution and management credibility given the significant disappointment, ironically, exactly one year ago," Jefferies analyst Michael Yee told Reuters, referring to the drug's over $100 million sales miss in the third quarter of 2017.

Otezla sales jumped 40.3 percent to $432 million in the latest third quarter, well above the average analyst estimate of $383.31 million, according to Refinitiv data. In the United States, the drug benefited from expanded market access and higher channel inventory levels, Celgene said.

"In our view, investors will likely welcome the strength of Otezla ... as the new contracting strategy that was put in place early last year is gaining positive momentum," William Blair analyst Andy Hsieh said.

While sales from long-time cashcow Revlimid, which treats the blood cancer multiple myeloma, rose nearly 18 percent to $2.45 billion, they came in slightly below Wall Street estimates of $2.47 billion.

However, Yee said some seasonality to Revlimid's sales is to be expected.

Although the blockbuster drug has survived patent challenges, the company has been investing heavily in its pipeline of experimental treatments, hoping they will lessen its reliance on Revlimid despite some recent clinical setbacks.

The drugmaker raised its 2018 adjusted earnings per share forecast to between $8.75 and $8.80, from $8.70 to $8.75 and said it now expects revenue of $15.2 billion in the year, higher than its prior target of $15 billion.

The U.S. biotech company said net income rose 9.5 percent to $1.08 billion, or $1.50 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Excluding one-time items, Celgene earned $2.29 per share, above Wall Street expectations of $2.22 per share.

Total revenue jumped 18.4 percent to $3.89 billion, beating estimates of $3.85 billion. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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