UPDATE 2-Allergan beats forecasts, but Botox sales fall

* EPS ex-items 75 cents: Street view 67 cents

* Botox sales down 3.2 pct to $337 million

* Shares rise 2.3 pct (Adds analyst comment, byline, updates share rise)

NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - Allergan Inc AGN.N posted a 23 percent rise in second-quarter earnings Friday, topping Wall Street expectations, as lower research and development spending helped offset declining sales of its medical devices and the anti-wrinkle drug Botox amid the economic downturn.

Allergan, whose shares were up 2.3 percent, said it earned $177 million, or 58 cents per share, compared with $144 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, it earned 75 cents per share, topping analysts’ average forecast by 8 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

“We cannot remember a time when Allergan beat by this much, so we assume it was intended to send a strong message to the Street that it has plenty of flexibility in its discretionary spending,” Natixis Bleichroeder analyst Corey Davis said in a research note.

Despite its outperformance in the quarter, Davis cautioned that Allergan did not raise the top end of its full-year 2009 profit outlook, which he said could suggest lower-than-expected results in the second half of the year.

Allergan said it now expects full-year earnings, excluding special items, of $2.71 to $2.75 per share, compared with its prior view of $2.69 to $2.75.

Second-quarter product sales fell slightly to $1.12 billion. Research and development spending was down 24 percent to $162 million.

Sales of medical devices, which include facial fillers, breast implants and surgical products to control obesity, dropped 14 percent to $198 million.

Sales of Botox slipped 3.2 percent to $337 million, hurt by foreign exchange factors and competition in the United States from a similar drug, Dysport, that has long been available in Europe. Both drugs are forms of botulinum toxin.

Allergan projected 2009 sales of $4.2 billion to $4.3 billion, in line with the Reuters Estimates forecast of $4.22 billion.

Allergan shares were up $1.23 to $53.81 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by John Wallace)