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Bristol-Myers sees big jumps in Q1 sales, profit

Thu, 04/29/2010 - 4:17am
LINDA A. JOHNSON - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. on Thursday reported double-digit jumps in first-quarter sales and net income, beating Wall Street expectations, but it lowered its 2010 profit forecast by a nickel due to the impact of the health care overhaul.

Still, the maker of blockbuster blood thinner Plavix posted a very healthy improvement in first-quarter profit, which jumped 16.5 percent to $743 million, or 43 cents per share, from $638 million or 32 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2009.

Excluding restructuring and other one-time charges totaling $224 million, or 13 cents per share, the company's earnings would have been 56 cents a share. That topped by a nickel what analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting, on average.

New York-based Bristol-Myers said its revenue increased 11 percent to $4.81 billion, just above the $4.74 billion analysts were expecting.

Plavix, which Bristol-Myers jointly markets with French partner Sanofi-Aventis SA, produced revenue of $1.67 billion in the quarter, up 16 percent, and six other medicines saw sales jump 15 percent or more.

Lamberto Andreotti, the chief operating officer who moves up to chief executive next Tuesday with the retirement of predecessor James Cornelius, called the results "a very positive start to the year for our company."

"While we remain clearly committed to productivity, we are also focused on giving maximum priority to driving sales growth," he said in a statement, referring to a three-year-old effort to rein in costs and boost productivity.

Favorable currency exchange rates helped, boosting revenue about 3 percent.

At the same time, sales and profit were reduced by 3 cents because of changes required in the health care overhaul enacted in late March and retroactive for the whole quarter: 2 cents for higher rebates paid to the Medicaid program and 1 cent due to the loss of a tax deduction for retiree health care costs.

The company said it expects additional negative impact this year as other discounts in the health law are implemented, such as to cancer hospitals. Bristol-Myers is estimating an impact of 12 cents per share for the full year.

However, it is only reducing its earnings-per-share forecast by 5 cents, to a range of $2.10 to $2.20, excluding one-time charges. It had forecast a range of $2.15 to $2.25 in January.

The company believes it can absorb the additional 7-cent impact due to the strength of the overall business and unspecified cost cuts it's been making in the expectation the overhaul would be enacted.

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