By Deena Beasley

(Reuters) -Gilead Sciences Inc on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected third-quarter profit despite lower sales of its COVID-19 antiviral drug and acquisition expenses, as demand for HIV and cancer drugs remained strong.

The U.S. biotech company also increased its forecast for full-year revenue and earnings.

Quarterly revenue fell 5% to $7 billion, but was still ahead of the average Wall Street estimate of $6.12 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Gilead shares, which closed at $70.20 in regular trading, were up nearly 3% at $72.25 after hours.

Sales of COVID treatment remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, fell 52% from a year earlier to $925 million. But that was still well ahead of analysts’ estimates of $328 million.

The company said adjusted quarterly profit fell 28% to $1.90 per share, which also beat Wall Street expectations of $1.43 per share. Net income fell to $1.42 per share from $2.05 per share.

“What you’ve seen is an over performance … both on Veklury, but also, I think, very importantly on our base business,” Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day told Reuters.

The CEO said Gilead expects demand for Veklury to continue to slow, but “like the rest of the world, we’ve had to struggle to look into the crystal ball and know exactly where the pandemic can go.”

Gilead’s HIV product sales increased 7% to $4.5 billion in the quarter, driven by higher prices and demand.

Sales of cancer drug Trodelvy rose 78% to $180 million, while sales of Gilead’s cancer cell therapies jumped 79% to $398 million.

HIV and oncology sales were ahead of expectations, which “is notable across the portfolio and important as they go forward as a key area of growth,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in an email.

For the full year, Gilead said it now expects product sales of $25.9 billion to $26.2 billion, up from a previous forecast of $24.5 billion to $25 billion.

The company also raised its outlook for 2022 adjusted earnings to between $3.35 and $3.55 per share from a previous range of $2.90 to $3.30.

“The increased guidance is also strong in this environment of heightened uncertainty across the global macro and points to the defensive nature and attractive business at names like Gilead in biotech,” Yee said.

(Reporting by Deena BeasleyEditing by Bill Berkrot)

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