* Q4 EPS ex-items 78 cents; Street view 77 cents
* Sees Q1 EPS 57-59 cents; Street view 68 cents
* Sees 2010 EPS $3.09-$3.15; Street view $3.15
* Shares rise, rebounding from earlier fall (Adds analyst and CEO comments, share rebound)
By Toni Clarke and Ransdell Pierson
BOSTON/NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Botox maker Allergan Inc (AGN.N) said fourth-quarter earnings rose 51 percent on higher sales of beauty products, medical devices and eye medicines, but it provided cautious forecasts for the first quarter and full-year 2010.
The company, whose products include treatments for glaucoma and to lengthen eyelashes, said its forecasts assume lawmakers in Washington will not pass significant healthcare reform.
Allergan successfully fought a proposed 5 percent tax on breast implants, face-lifts and other elective cosmetic procedures that had been in Senate Democrats’ healthcare legislation.
The company said it earned $221.5 million, or 72 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, up from $146.6 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding special items, it earned 78 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 77 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The Irvine, California-based company forecast 2010 earnings of $3.09 to $3.15 a share excluding one-time items, on product sales of $4.55 billion to $4.75 billion.
Analysts on average were expecting 2010 earnings of $3.15 a share on revenue of $4.78 billion.
“Several cosmetic products returned to growth for the first time all year, including worldwide Botox cosmetic, breast and facial aesthetics,” Amit Hazan, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co, said in a research note. “That said, 2010 guidance does not exude much confidence in a rebound.”
But Leerink Swann analyst Gary Nachman said Allergan’s fourth-quarter showing was “very solid” and bodes well for full-year 2010 trends. He cited particularly strong sales growth in cosmetic products, glaucoma treatment Alphagan, and Restasis to increase tear production.
“The aesthetic market is definitely on the rebound,” he said. “The economy has improved to a certain extent, so people are willing to go back and get certain procedures.”
Allergan forecast first-quarter earnings of 57 cents to 59 cents a share, and product net sales of $1.06 billion to $1.10 billion.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 68 cents a share on revenue of $1.11 billion.
Nachman said he was not surprised that Allergan’s first-quarter profit forecast was well below Wall Street expectations, even as its sales forecast was roughly in line with Street views.
“This is typical Allergan: They low-ball their first-quarter forecast and usually then come back and beat it,” he said. In general, Allergan tends to be conservative in its forecasts, he added.
“If you look at the last couple of quarters, they’ve beaten on revenue very handily, and they’ve been able to reinvest a lot of that into the business and still show good bottom-line performance,” Nachman said.
Total product sales in the fourth quarter rose 15.9 percent to $1.21 billion, and overall revenue was $1.22 billion, beating Wall Street estimates of $1.16 billion.
Botox sales rose 5.6 percent to $347.7 million.
David Pyott, Allergan’s chief executive officer, told analysts in a conference call that the company’s Lap-Band surgical treatment for obesity was the exception to otherwise strong product sales during the quarter.
Pyott said Lap-Band sales were hurt by insurance co-payments and economic conditions, but he cited “early signs of recovery” for the product.
Pyott, who said the company benefited from commercial investments made in the second half of the year, also said Allergan has a “huge emphasis” on expanding its operations in Asia and Eastern Europe.
Allergan shares, down as much as 2.6 percent early on Thursday, were up $1.35, or 2.4 percent, at $58.12 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has risen 42 percent in the past year. (Reporting by Franklin Paul, Ransdell Pierson and Toni Clarke; Editing by Dave Zimmerman and John Wallace)