McKesson raises annual profit forecast on strong demand for specialty medicines

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi

(Reuters) - U.S.-based drug distributor McKesson raised its annual profit forecast on Wednesday, banking on strong demand for specialty medicines.

An increase in volumes for costly specialty medicines and other products in the United States have helped McKesson counter the impact of lower COVID vaccine sales in the third quarter.

McKesson expects its 2024 adjusted per-share profit to be between $27.25 and $27.65, versus its prior range of $26.80 to $27.40.

The company's U.S. pharmaceutical segment sells specialty drugs, which are used to treat complex conditions such as cancer, and distributes products including branded and generic drugs as well as over-the-counter products and vaccines.

The unit recorded about an 18% rise in third-quarter sales to $73.02 billion. Analysts on average estimated sales at $70.6 billion, according to LSEG data.

Sales in the international segment, however, came in at $3.64 billion, missing estimates of $3.75 billion, as a result of divestitures within the company's European business.

Company's total revenue rose about 14.8% to $80.9 billion, ahead of analysts' estimate of $77.86 billion, partly helped by the demand for GLP-1 medications.

On an adjusted basis, McKesson posted per-share profit of $7.74 for the quarter ended Dec. 31, versus analysts' estimate of $7.05.

Shares of the Texas-headquartered company fell 3.1% to $501 in after-market trading.

(Reporting by Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shilpi Majumdar)