Pfizer result better than expected


Pfizer yesterday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, helped by rebounding sales in emerging markets. However, the drug-maker forecast that 2013 profits would be weaker than Wall Street has estimated.

Pfizer, the largest US drugmaker, said quarterly earnings quadrupled to $6.32 billion, or 86 cents per share, as it recorded a gain from selling its nutritional products business to Swiss food group Nestle run by chief executive Paul Bulcke (right) for about $12 billion in November.

In the year-earlier quarter it posted a profit of $1.44 billion, or 19 cents per share.

Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 47 cents per share in the quarter.

Global company sales fell 7 per cent to $15.1 billion, hurt by generic competition for its Lipitor cholesterol drug, but came in well above expectations of $14.37 billion.

Pfizer forecast full-year 2013 earnings of $2.20 to $2.30 per share, excluding special items.

Pfizer is on a roll with recent approvals of a handful of new products that could help it rebound from plunging sales of Lipitor. They include a blood clot preventer called Eliquis – co-developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb and approved in December – that analysts believe could eventually claim annual sales of $5 billion or more.

Xeljanz, a pill for rheumatoid arthritis deemed likely to generate annual sales of more than $2 billion, was approved by US regulators in November.

Pfizer’s shares have risen 26 per cent in the last year.

Investors have also warmed to Pfizer because of its ongoing efforts to spin off non-pharmaceutical operations and return much of the proceeds to investors in the form of bigger dividends and repurchases of common shares. On the heels of selling its nutrition business to Nestle, Pfizer is expected within days to raise more than $2.2 billion through an initial public offering that will separate its animal health unit into a new company called Zoetis. – (Reuters)