Pfizer's 4Q net plunges on charges, sales decline

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Associated Press

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 28 at 12:01 PM

Drugmaker Pfizer's fourth-quarter profit plunged 59 percent because of discontinued operations, restructuring and other charges, and generic competition continuing to bleed sales of former blockbuster medicines.

Despite those pressures and unfavorable currency exchange rates reducing revenue by 3 percent, Pfizer easily topped Wall Street's expectations.

Pfizer's stock rose 49 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $30.15 in premarket trading.

The world's second-biggest drugmaker said Tuesday that net income was $2.57 billion, or 39 cents per share, down from $6.32 billion, or 85 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the maker of Viagra, arthritis drug Xeljanz and pneumonia vaccine Prevnar said net income would have been $3.69 billion, or 56 cents per share. Analysts expected 52 cents.

Net income was reduced by the animal health business spinoff last year and the sale of Pfizer's nutrition business in late 2012.

Revenue totaled $13.56 billion, down 2 percent. Analysts expected $13.36 billion.

Sales of primary care drugs fell 10 percent to $3.44 billion, mainly on generic competition for Viagra in Europe and for cholesterol fighter Lipitor.

Lipitor, the world's top-selling drug until U.S. generic competition hit two years ago, now faces cheaper copycats in Europe and Australia, too. Those smaller revenues were shifted to the established products unit, where sales edged up 2 percent to $2.42 billion.

Specialty drug sales dropped 7 percent to $3.4 billion, on generic competition overseas for two other drugs. Meanwhile, royalties from immune disorder drug Enbrel fell as Pfizer's co-promotion deal winds down.

The bright spot was Pfizer's fledgling cancer drug business, up 26 percent to $468 million.

New York-based Pfizer forecast 2014 adjusted profit of $2.20 to $2.30.

"We enter 2014 with confidence in the competitive positioning of our commercial businesses, the prospects for our recently launched products and the strength of our research pipeline," CEO Ian Read said in a statement.

He noted Pfizer will report midstage test results this year for palbociclib for advanced breast cancer, plus some other drugs and vaccines.

BernsteinResearch analyst Dr. Timothy Anderson called it a "decent" quarter, noting slightly higher revenue and lower taxes than expected and lower interest, legal and asset-impairment charges, which boosted the "other income" line. But Pfizer faces more patent expirations on older drugs.

For all of 2013, Pfizer posted net income of $22 billion, up 51 percent, on revenue of $51.58 billion, down 6 percent. Pfizer repurchased 1 billion, or 13 percent, of its shares last year.

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Follow Linda A. Johnson at http://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma

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