Stronger sales of nearly all its medicines and a multibillion-dollar, one-time gain brought drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. a huge jump in fourth-quarter profit, the company said Thursday.
The maker of blockbuster blood thinner Plavix said its net income in the October-December quarter was $8.03 billion, or $4.06 per share. In December Bristol-Myers sold off its interest in infant formula maker Mead Johnson for a gain of $7.2 billion, or $3.62 per share.
The sale was the last step in a strategy to transform Bristol-Myers into a pure biopharmaceutical company. Bristol now has about $9.9 billion available for deals or other uses.
In the fourth quarter, the company's sales totaled $5.03 billion, up 11 percent from $4.54 billion in 2008's fourth quarter, boosted by about 4 percentage points by favorable currency exchange rates. Sales were led by double-digit jumps in sales for Plavix and HIV treatments Reyataz and Sustiva. Only cancer drug Erbitux, which Bristol-Myers markets jointly with Eli Lilly & Co., saw a dip in sales.
That's partly because Bristol's medicines are all for serious, even life-threatening conditions, so patients aren't likely to cut back on them even in a recession.
Bristol posted income from continuing operations of $928 million, or 47 cents per share, excluding several other one-time items. Those included charges for outsourcing, payments to research partners and a $100 million charitable donation, plus a $288 million gain from selling the company's business marketing its mature brands in India.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had been expecting adjusted earnings per share of 41 cents, or 6 cents less, on sales of $4.99 billion.
Bristol-Myers said it expects earnings per share in 2010 to range from $1.94 to $2.04. That's based on revenue growing in the mid-single digits and excludes the impact of any U.S. health care overhaul.
In the fourth quarter, Plavix, an anticlotting pill for preventing heart attacks — the world's second-best-selling drug — brought in $1.62 billion in sales, up 10 percent. Sales rose to $707 million for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder drug Abilify, $339 million for blood pressure drug Avapro, $388 million for Reyataz, $358 million for Sustiva and $212 million for hepatitis B treatment Baraclude. New diabetes drug Onglyza posted only $4 million in sales.
Meanwhile, Bristol and Lilly restructured Bristol's 2001 collaboration deal with ImClone Systems Inc. regarding Erbitux and a similar, successor cancer drug called necitumumab. Bristol and ImClone had jointly developed Erbitux, and Bristol retained some rights when Lilly bought ImClone in 2008. Under the new deal, Bristol will pay some costs for testing of necitumumab and, if it's approved, will get 55 percent of future sales in the U.S., Canada and Japan; Lilly gets all other revenue.
Last August, Bristol-Myers spent $2.1 billion to buy biotech company Medarex for its antibody technology, used to make biologic drugs that can fight cancer or immunologic disorders, a deal praised by some analysts as visionary.
For the full year, Bristol reported net income of $10.61 billion, or $5.34 per share, on revenue of $18.81 billion. In 2008, the company posted net income of $5.25 billion, or $2.62 per share, on revenue of $17.72 billion.
In morning trading, shares of Bristol-Myers rose 5 cents to $24.35.
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.