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Pfizer beats estimates but maintains 2016 profit forecast

Pfizer headquarters
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Pfizer's reported better-than-expected quarterly results, driven by lower taxes and sales of generic medicines, but revenue from its array of branded patent-protected medicines brought disappointment.

In its earnings report, the largest U.S. drugmaker did not offer any hints on whether it plans to split into two separate companies, a long-mulled potential decision that has kept investors in suspense.

Pfizer, whose shares fell almost 2 percent in morning trading, said second-quarter revenue rose 11 percent to $13.15 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of $13.01 billion.

Sales of generic medicines rose 16 percent in the quarter to $6.04 billion, helped by Pfizer's $16 billion purchase last year of generic hospital products company Hospira.

Although generics beat expectations, BMO Capital Markets analyst Alex Arfaei said sales of Hospira products, at $1.14 billion, were 7 percent below his forecast, and suggested "limited revenue synergies" from that acquisition.

Sales of Pfizer's array of patent-protected drugs were up 7 percent to $7.11 billion, about 2 percent below Arfaei's estimate.

Higher sales of nerve-pain drug Lyrica helped offset disappointing sales of its Prevnar vaccine for pneumococcal infections.

In April, Pfizer terminated a $160 billion deal to acquire Irish drugmaker Allergan after the U.S. Treasury Department issued new rules restricting such tax inversion transactions aimed at slashing taxes.

With the collapse of the deal, investors have shifted their focus to whether Pfizer will break up, creating one company specializing in innovative patent-protected drugs and another geared toward branded generic drugs widely used in overseas markets.

Pfizer for several years has been studying whether such a split makes sense, largely because its patent-protected medicines routinely have enjoyed sales growth, while its portfolio of generics has posted consistent declines.

Its pursuit of Allergan threatened to delay a decision on the potential split, but Pfizer said on Tuesday it expects to decide by the end of the year.

The company's new breast cancer treatment, Ibrance, generated sales of $514 million, up from $140 million in the year-ago quarter and exceeding Evercore ISI's forecast of $496 million.

Pfizer earned 64 cents per share, excluding special items, beating the average analyst estimate by 2 cents.

Net income fell to $2.02 billion, or 33 cents per share, from $2.63 billion, or 42 cents per share, hurt by restructuring charges and acquisition costs.

Pfizer reaffirmed it expects 2016 earnings of $2.38 to $2.48 per share. It earned $2.20 per share in 2015.