GSK warned of a bigger than expected fall in earnings this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt other healthcare treatments and the British drugmaker invests in its two main businesses ahead of their separation next year.
The world's biggest vaccine maker by sales said on Wednesday it expected adjusted earnings to fall by a mid- to high-single digit percentage at constant exchange rates. Analysts' consensus forecast had been for a decline of about 3% this year.
While the pandemic has boosted demand for GSK's over-the-counter painkillers, it has hit its vaccines business and flagship shot for shingles as health authorities have focused on COVID-19 and patients have made fewer trips to doctors.
'For our vaccines business, we now anticipate further disruption during the first half of the year,' the company said in a statement, forecasting a recovery in the second half.
Earlier on Wednesday, GSK said it was teaming up with German biotech firm CureVac to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to target several variants of the virus with one shot.
Rather than developing its own COVID-19 shot, GSK has so far focused on supplying its vaccine booster, or adjuvant, to other drugmakers. But it has had two big setbacks, as a project with Sanofi was delayed, while China's Clover ended its deal with GSK on Monday.
Meanwhile, companies using new technologies that don't require adjuvants, including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, are already rolling out COVID-19 vaccines.
GSK said turnover for the fourth-quarter of 2020 fell 2% to £8.74 billion ($11.9 billion) and adjusted earnings came in at 23.3 pence per share, both slightly higher than analysts' average forecast.
GSK last year launched a two-year programme to split in two after the merger of its over-the-counter products business into a venture with Pfizer that created a market leader with brands from Sensodyne toothpaste to Panadol painkillers. That will be split from its drug making business.
The company said on Wednesday that process was on track.