Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drugmaker, reported first-quarter profit that topped analyst estimates, boosted by cost reductions and rising sales of the pneumonia vaccine Prevnar.
Profit excluding certain items was 60 cents a share, beating the 58-cent average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income rose 9.7 percent to $2.22 billion, or 28 cents a share from $2.03 billion, or 25 cents, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Revenue fell 0.4 percent to $16.5 billion, excluding $177 million in sales from the Capsugel unit, which was sold in April.
Pfizer’s Chief Executive Officer Ian Read is selling units and cutting jobs to prepare for the loss of U.S. patent protection in November of the company’s Lipitor cholesterol pill, the best-selling drug in the world with $10.7 billion in annual sales in 2010. The company’s shares have climbed 20 percent this year as Read reviewed his portfolio for possible divestitures.
“This CEO is going to make stuff happen,” said David Maris, an analyst with CLSA in New York, in a telephone interview. “The market is focused on that more than anything. I think the additional color on where they are in the process will reaffirm that this is an active discussion and that something will happen by year end to one or more divisions.”
Pfizer reiterated its 2011 forecast range of adjusted earnings of $2.16 to $2.26 a share with sales of as much as $67.2 billion. The previous revenue guidance was released on April 4 after Pfizer announced the sale of its Capsugel business for making pill casings, the company’s smallest unit, for $2.38 billion to KKR & Co.
Pfizer rose 5 cents, or less than 1 percent, $21.02 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
In his first earnings report as CEO, Read in February said he was reviewing divisions -- baby formula, veterinary medicines, over-the-counter and established products -- to focus on drug development. Nine of the world’s 15 best-selling medicines will lose patent protection during the next five years. Chief among these products is Lipitor, which lost market exclusivity in Spain and Canada last year.
Lipitor had sales of $2.39 billion in the first quarter falling short of the $2.55 billion average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales will decline by more than half next year after generic-drug makers flood the U.S. market with cheaper copies, according to eight analysts surveyed.
The arthritis treatment Enbrel generated $870 million in sales for the quarter. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated $907 million. The pain pill Lyrica generated $826 million, an increase of 14 percent. The pneumonia vaccines Prevnar and Prevnar13 had combined sales of $996 million.
Pfizer acquired Enbrel and Prevnar in the $68 billion purchase of Wyeth in 2009.
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