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Wyeth Profit Slips, but Tops Wall Street Estimates

Wyeth Tuesday said its first-quarter net profit fell slightly, hurt by the sudden launch early this year of a generic form of its Protonix ulcer drug, but surprisingly strong sales enabled the company to beat Wall Street profit forecasts.

Wyeth said it earned $1.2 billion, or 89 cents per share, compared with $1.25 billion, or 92 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, the drugmaker earned 94 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected 90 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Global revenue rose 6 percent to $5.71 billion, above the Reuters Estimates forecast of $5.49 billion. Excluding the favorable impact of the weak dollar, revenue rose only one percent.

Wyeth in late January had forecast flat revenue and lower earnings for 2008 due to generic competition for Protonix and assumptions about possible generic competition for other medicines.

Protonix had been one of Wyeth's biggest products, with annual sales of more than $1.7 billion, until Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries introduced its generic despite an unresolved patent dispute with Wyeth.

Protonix revenue plunged 66 percent in the first quarter, to $159 million.

But other big Wyeth drugs had strong offsetting sales gains, including depression treatment Effexor, Enbrel for arthritis, Prevnar to prevent childhood infections, and the company's rebounding Premarin line of female hormone replacement drugs.

Effexor sales rose 15 percent to $1.02 billion, while Prevnar sales jumped 14 percent to $706 million. Sales of Enbrel, which Wyeth markets outside the United States and Canada, soared 36 percent to $606 million, despite strong competition from similar products sold by Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories .