U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co., which is trying to rebound from painful patent expirations on its medicines, said it would have to cut costs to achieve its financial goals through 2014, but would buy back $5 billion of its stock over time.
Lilly said that slowing growth in emerging markets and the devaluation of Japan's yen were hurting its results. These "headwinds" will make it challenging for the company to meet its minimum revenue goal of $20 billion in 2014, Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice said in a release.
Rice said Lilly was looking for appropriate ways to reach the revenue goal and would reduce costs to meet its objectives of at least $3 billion in annual net income and $4 billion in operating cash flow through 2014.
The company's revenue and profits have tumbled since 2011 due to the loss of patent protection on its Zyprexa schizophrenia treatment and other drugs.
Many analysts in recent years had hoped Lilly would restore earnings growth by merging with another large drugmaker, but the Indianapolis company has vowed to remain independent and to bounce back by introducing important new products.
Revenue and earnings have begun to improve this year, but will plunge again after Lilly's $6 billion-a-year Cymbalta depression treatment goes generic in December. The picture worsens in 2014, when blockbuster osteoporosis drug Evista loses patent protection.
Lilly officials are meeting with industry analysts on Thursday to review the company's medicines, including experimental treatments for a wide range of diseases.
Analysts on average expect Lilly's earnings before special items to drop 33 percent to $2.77 per share in 2014 from an estimated $4.14 this year.
Rice said analysts might be underestimating the impact of the Cymbalta and Evista patent expirations on profit margins. But he said the forecasts also might overstate Lilly's likely tax rate and not fully reflect the company's ability to reduce operating expenses.
He said Lilly would provide its own specific 2014 earnings forecasts in January.
Shares of Lilly were down 1.1 percent at $49.99 in trading before the market opened.
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