U.S. News

Bristol-Myers Posts Quarterly Loss, But Operating Earnings Top Views


Bristol-Myers Squibb reported a fourth-quarter loss because of
special charges and generic competition for its Plavix blood-clot drug, but results beat expectations.

The New York-based company said it lost $134 million, or 7 cents a share, compared to a profit of $499 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Bristol-Myers earned 19 cents a share. Analysts, on average, expected 16 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.

Pharma Earnings

The special charges include $353 million in additional reserves toward a proposed $499 million settlement, following federal probes into the company's pricing and marketing practices. It took another $220 million charge to retire debt.  

The company expects to report 2007 profit of between $1.12 and $1.22 a share. Excluding items, Bristol-Myers estimates profit of $1.20 to $1.30 a share.

Analysts polled by Thomson, on average, expect the company to earn $1.22 a share.

Although fourth-quarter sales fell 16% to $4.21 billion, they were a bit higher than the $4.18 billion Reuters Estimates forecast.

Bristol-Myers said revenue from Plavix, which is sold in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis, fell 53% to $496 million, as remaining supplies of a copycat made by Canadian drugmaker Apotex  continued to cut into sales.

But that is an improvement over earlier quarters, when sales of Plavix plunged more than 70%.

Apotex is forbidden from shipping any more of its generic, or clopidogrel, which it introduced in the United States last August, because of an ongoing patent battle in New York federal court. But supplies of its copycat already in warehouses and drugstores continue to be sold.

The highly anticipated trial began on Jan. 22 in federal district court in New York and is expected to last a month. A decision is expected in late 2007.

Other products were battered by generic competition in Europe, including cholesterol fighter Pravachol, whose global sales fell 75% to $146 million, and cancer drug Taxol, which fell 28%  to $130 million.

Newer products continued to gain popularity, however, including blood pressure treatment Avapro -- also partnered with Sanofi-Aventis -- whose sales rose 11% to $307 million.

Sales of schizophrenia drug Abilify jumped 62% to $362 million, helped by growing demand in Europe and the drug's reputation for not causing weight gains seen with rival products such as Eli Lilly's Zyprexa.

Colon cancer treatment Erbitux, sold in partnership with ImClone Systems , jumped 38% to $167 million, helped by its approval last March for head and neck cancer.

Bristol-Myers will host a webcast to discuss results at 10:30 am New York time.