Strong sales of key products drove third-quarter earnings at Pfizer up by 50%, the world's largest drug company said today.
However, the New York-based company warned that its revenue and income growth could be tempered next year by several factors, including loss of exclusivity on several key drugs and foreign exchange rates. Its shares fell in morning trading.
Pfizer earned $3.34 billion, or 45 cents a share, for the July-September period, up from $2.24 billion, or 29 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding charges such as the acquisition of Pharmacia and income from discontinued operations, Pfizer earnings rose 13% to $4.16 billion, or 55 cents per share. That beat by one cent a share the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Financial First Call.
Third-quarter revenue rose 4 percent to $12.83 billion from $12.35 billion. Sales of cholesterol drug Lipitor rose 11% to $2.7 billion, while revenue from pain reliever Celebrex grew 14% to $797 million.
However, impotency pill Viagra sales dropped 15% to $403 million because of two new competitors.
Sales of antidepressant Zoloft fell 3% to $802 million, while revenues from blood pressure treatment Norvasc declined 6% to $1.94 billion.
Analysts noted overall third-quarter revenues were slightly below expectations. David Moskowitz, an analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, had expected sales of $13.2 billion.
Moskowitz said he wasn't completely surprised by Pfizer's announcement of next year's challenges. Financial gains from synergies stemming from the Pharmacia acquisition are dwindling, and many important products are losing exclusivity, Moskowitz said.
Pfizer said four products -- antifungal Diflucan, blood pressure treatment Accupril, antibiotic Zithromax and epilepsy and pain medication Neurontin, which had combined sales of more than $5 billion in the 12 months ended in September -- all face reduced revenue in 2005.
Still, Moskowitz said some of those losses could be offset by increased sales of Bextra and Celebrex. The two were widely expected to benefit after Merck & Co. pulled Vioxx, its competing drug, off the market late last month because a test showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and strokes compared with a placebo.
However, concerns that the entire class of drugs, known as cox-2 inhibitors, may cause similar problems have pushed some doctors to write fewer prescriptions for the group. Last week, Pfizer announced a trial showed Bextra increased the risk of heart attacks in patients that had coronary bypass operations.
"I think now we are seeing a lot of nervousness about the drugs but there could be up side," said Moskowitz. He said the environment may change after the initial shock wears off and evidence mounts that the entire class doesn't cause adverse cardiovascular events.
The company didn't give any guidance for 2005, but analysts expected it to earn $2.36 a share. Pfizer reconfirmed it expects to earn between $2.12 a share and $2.14 a share this year.
For the first nine months of the year, Pfizer earned $8.54 billion, or $1.12 a share, up from $3.31 billion, or 46 cents a share, a year earlier.
Nine-month revenue rose 22 percent to $37.59 billion from $30.75 billion a year ago.
Its shares were down 47 cents, or 1.6%, at $28.53 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.