* Q2 EPS ex-items $1.23 vs $1.22 forecast
* Now sees 2014 EPS $4.50-$4.80 with Copaxone competition
* Supreme Court to hear Teva’s Copaxone patent appeal Oct. 15 (Adds CEO comments from conference call, details on 2014 outlook, share reaction)
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, July 31 (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries raised its full-year profit forecast on Thursday after posting higher quarterly earnings that were due in part to the launch of several generic products in the United States.
Teva, the world’s largest generic drugmaker and Israel’s biggest company, earned $1.23 per share excluding one-time items in the second quarter, compared with $1.20 a year earlier. Revenue rose 2 percent to $5.05 billion.
Teva was forecast to earn $1.22 a share excluding items on revenue of $5.09 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company, which generates about 20 percent of its sales and half its profit from one drug - multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone - is fighting to delay cheap generic competition. The injectable drug also faces competition from oral treatments.
Teva said the U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on its appeal in a Copaxone patent fight for Oct. 15 with a decision expected by early next year. Any generic launch in the meantime could result in damages reaching billions of dollars.
Teva raised its full-year 2014 earnings forecast to $4.50-$4.80 a share if rivals launch generic Copaxone by August and $4.90-$5.10 without competition. Previously, it had predicted $4.20-$4.50 with competition and $4.80-$5.10 without.
It maintained its 2014 outlook for revenue of $19.8-$20.8 billion without competition and lifted its outlook to $19.5-$20.5 bln with competition from a previous $19.3-$20.3 billion.
Teva’s New York-listed shares opened 0.8 percent lower at $54.42.
Global sales of Copaxone fell 12 percent to $939 million in the second quarter. Sales were hit by higher inventory levels created in the previous quarter following the launch of Copaxone 40 mg, which only needs to be injected three times a week rather than daily for the 20 mg version. Teva hopes the new version will strengthen its position ahead of competition.
Chief Executive Erez Vigodman said the 40 mg version had exceeded expectations, converting 51 percent of U.S. Copaxone patients and reaching a U.S. market share of 16.9 percent. It aims for a 65 percent conversion rate by year-end.
“We are ... making significant progress on our top priorities for 2014: solidifying the foundation of Teva, maintaining the Copaxone franchise, driving organic growth and positioning Teva for long-term value creation,” Vigodman said.
Teva expects to save $2 billion in gross expenses by 2017, of which $800 million will flow to its bottom line.
He said Teva’s strategy includes becoming a top three global player in the pain and respiratory markets.
It expects to have 10 or more pain medicines on the market by 2020, compared with four in 2014 with sales reaching $2 billion or more from $500 million this year.
In respiratory drugs, where it ranks No. 5, it sees sales growing to $2.5 billion by 2019 from $1 billion this year.
Teva said large acquisitions were possible in both the generic and specialty drug markets.
Teva declared a quarterly dividend of 1.21 shekels (35.3 cents) a share, unchanged from the first quarter. (Editing by Steven Scheer and Susan Fenton)