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Bristol-Myers Narrows Loss, Cuts Forecast

Bristol-Myers Squibb said Thursday it narrowed its loss in the fourth quarter from a year ago, when generic competition hurt sales of its best-selling drug Plavix.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the New York-based company lost $89 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a loss of $134 million, or 7 cents per share, a year ago, when sales of blood thinner Plavix plunged.

Excluding milestone payments, acquired in-process research and development charges and other specified items, the company's earnings from operations came to 33 cents per share.

Revenue rose 33 percent to $5.38 billion from $4.06 billion, as worldwide sales of Plavix nearly tripled to $1.37 billion. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales increased 39 percent to $4.4 billion in the fourth quarter, helped by a weak dollar.

The earnings were below estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Financial who, on average, expected profit of 34 cents per share, on revenue of $5.24 billion.

The company lowered its 2008 earnings per share guidance from continuing operations to between $1.36 and $1.46, from $1.44 to $1.54.

Bristol-Myers also cut its 2008 outlook for adjusted earnings from continuing operations to between $1.60 and $1.70, from $1.65 to $1.75.

Analysts estimate adjusted 2008 earnings of $1.71 per share.