* Q1 EPS $0.58, vs $0.56 forecast
* Q1 sales $15.41 bln, versus $15.47 bln forecast
* Lipitor sales plunge 42 percent to $1.4 billion
* Shares down 0.7 pct
By Ransdell Pierson
May 1 Pfizer Inc reported
higher-than-expected quarterly earnings as improved profit
margins and strong sales of its Lyrica nerve-pain drug partly
offset plunging demand for its Lipitor cholesterol fighter, now
facing cheaper generic rivals.
The global drugmaker said sales of Lipitor, which lost
patent protection in November, fell 42 percent to $1.4 billion.
"The story here is that Pfizer is dealing with its Lipitor
patent loss surprisingly well," said Morningstar analyst Damien
Conover. "When you lose the biggest medicine in the world and
your earnings per share only fall 3 percent, that's a lot better
than people expected a few years ago. Pfizer is mitigating the
patent loss by cutting costs and bringing in good new drugs."
Shares of Pfizer were down 0.7 percent at $22.76 in early
Pfizer earned $1.79 billion, or 24 cents per share, in the
first quarter. That compared with $2.2 billion, or 28 cents per
share, a year earlier, when results suffered because of a
litigation charge and costs of revamping research operations.
Excluding special charges to boost productivity and address
legal matters, Pfizer earned 58 cents per share, from 60 cents a
year ago. Analysts on average had expected 56 cents, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Citibank analyst Jon Boris said in a research note that U.S.
pharmaceuticals sales of $5.19 billion were "solid," coming in
about $290 million above his forecast. Overseas pharmaceuticals
sales of $7.88 billion, down 1 percent from a year ago, were
$230 million below his expectations.
Pfizer, whose research laboratories have produced few
big-selling drugs in the past decade, is now eagerly awaiting
U.S. approvals of two potential blockbuster treatments: blood
clot preventer Eliquis and tofacitinib to treat rheumatoid
SQUEEZING GROWTH FROM OLDER DRUGS
In the meantime, it is squeezing good growth out of older
medicines, including Lyrica, whose sales jumped 16 percent to
$955 million in the quarter, fueled by growing demand in Japan.
Sales of painkiller Celebrex rose 7 percent to $634 million,
while sales of arthritis treatment Enbrel rose 3 percent to $899
million. Premarin, its line of female hormone replacement drugs,
topped forecasts, with sales rising 11 percent to $261 million.
But sales of its Prevnar vaccines against pneumonia and
other infections fell 6 percent to $941 million due to fewer
children getting booster shots during the period and a lower
U.S. birth rate for eligible patients versus a year ago.
Total company revenue fell 7 percent to $15.41 billion, a
bit below Wall Street expectations of $15.47 billion.
The New York drugmaker agreed last week to sell its baby
formula business to Nestle SA for $11.85 billion to
focus on its core pharmaceuticals business. On Tuesday, Pfizer
said it planned to allocate proceeds from the deal to share
repurchases and possibly other uses.
In the meantime, Pfizer said it still intends to decide this
year whether to divest its animal health unit, with any
separation of the business taking place between this July and
July 2013. The unit's sales rose 4 percent in the quarter to
Should it part with the business, Pfizer has said it would
probably be in the form of an initial public offering, a route
that would avoid hefty taxes.