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Pfizer profit beats estimates; oncology drugs shine

Pfizer
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Pfizer

Pfizer reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, helped by costs cuts and growing sales of recently approved cancer medicines.

The largest U.S. drugmaker said it earned $2.59 billion, or 39 cents per share in the quarter, compared with $3.21 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 58 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected 56 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Read more: Merck Q3 profit beats estimate, but Januvia sales slump)

After the earnings announcement, the company's shares edged lower in pre-market trade. (Click here to get the latest quotes for Pfizer.)

Global company sales fell 7 percent to $12.64 billion, hurt by generic competition for cholesterol fighter Lipitor and other medicines. Wall Street had expected sales of $12.7 billion.

Sales of its oncology drugs jumped 26 percent in the quarter to $407 million, in contrast to declining sales of Pfizer's array of specialty care and primary care medicines.

(Read more: Apple earnings, revenue beat Wall St. estimates)

Revenue slipped to $12.64 billion from $13.98 billion a year ago.

Pfizer said it now expects full-year earnings per share of $3.05 a share to $3.15 a share, down from its former guidance of $3.07 a share to $3.22 a share.

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