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Wyeth Posts Flat 1st-quarter Profit

Wed, 04/29/2009 - 4:31am
LINDA A. JOHNSON AP Business Writer TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Wyeth, which is being acquired by drug giant Pfizer, on Wednesday posted a flat first-quarter profit but beats analysts' expectations, as cost cuts and a lower tax rate offset lower revenue. The maker of blockbuster antidepressant Effexor and Centrum vitamins posted net income for the quarter of $1.2 billion, or 89 cents per share. The profit is virtually identical to that of the first quarter of 2008. But revenue fell 6 percent to $5.4 billion as Effexor and several other drugs saw big drops in sales, partly because of the stronger dollar, which depresses revenue from overseas sales. Many drugmakers have taken revenue hits from that effect. Analysts expected revenue just over $5.5 billion and earnings per share of 88 cents. Excluding charges totaling $71.8 million for cost-cutting, Wyeth's profit amounted to 93 cents a share. Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth said that adjusted for the strong dollar, its revenue would have been up 2 percent. Its sales results were a mixed bag, though. Prevnar, a blockbuster vaccine against pneumococcal diseases, posted a 7 percent jump in sales to $755 million, and Protonix, for severe heartburn, saw sales skyrocket 35 percent to $215 million. The latter number includes sales of both brand-name Protonix and Wyeth's own generic version. Meanwhile, Effexor, the world's top-selling antidepressant, saw revenue drop 20 percent to $819 million. Wyeth also reported double-digit sales declines for Premarin and related menopause treatments, for its hemophilia drugs and from its partnership revenue on sales outside North America for Enbrel. That's a biologic drug for rheumatoid arthritis that is the top-selling product in its class. But Wyeth's revenue from Enbrel in the U.S. and Canada edged up 3 percent to $627 million. Sales of Centrum vitamins fell 13 percent to $163 million, and Advil pain relievers were down 7 percent at $159 million. Overall, consumer health sales fell 9 percent to $613 million. Pfizer is buying Wyeth for roughly $68 billion in a deal set to close late in the third quarter or in the fourth quarter of this year. The move not only solidifies Pfizer's position as the world's largest drugmaker, but seeks to solve looming problems from upcoming generic competition to its top seller, cholesterol fighter Lipitor. Wyeth backed its previous expectations for 2009 for earnings per share of $3.33 to $3.53, excluding one-time items. It said its costs for marketing and administration fell 4 percent in the quarter, and it reduced research spending by 6 percent. The company's tax rate decreased to 28.4 percent, from 31.1 percent in 2008's first quarter, mainly because the U.S. research and development tax credit was renewed.
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