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Bristol Profit Beats Forecasts, Helped by Plavix

Bristol-Myers Squibb on Thursday posted quarterly earnings that beat forecasts, helped by higher sales of blood clot preventer Plavix and schizophrenia treatment Abilify, and the company announced an additional $1 billion in planned cost cuts.

The New York-based drugmaker earned $764 million, or 38 cents per share, in the second quarter, compared with $706 million, or 36 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, such as discontinued operations, Bristol-Myers earned 43 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected 40 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

"The quarterly beat came primarily from stronger-than-expected Abilify sales, coupled with solid cost-containment," J.P. Morgan analyst Chris Schott said in a research report.

Global company sales from continuing operations jumped 16 percent to $5.2 billion, above the $5.09 billion Reuters Estimates forecast.

They would have risen 11 percent if not for favorable foreign exchange factors.

Bristol said it is on track to achieve $1.5 billion in planned cumulative savings by 2010 from a productivity initiative begun late last year.

Moreover, the company said it is taking steps to create an additional $1 billion in cost savings by 2012.

The cost savings could somewhat help offset expected plunging sales of Plavix when the $5 billion-a-year anti-clot drug faces U.S. generic competition by May 2012.

The savings would also help Bristol-Myers better contend with lower sales of Plavix should U.S. regulators approve Eli Lilly's rival Effient (prasugrel) brand.

A decision on the new anti-clot medicine could come by late September.

Global sales of Plavix jumped 17 percent to $1.39 billion in the second quarter, after generic supplies of the medicine that had competed with Plavix for about a year in the United States became exhausted.

A federal court has banned continued shipments of the generic, saying it infringed Plavix patents held by Bristol's marketing partner Sanofi-Aventis .

Sales of HIV treatment Reyataz, helped by its convenient once-daily dosing, surged 28 percent to $324 million, while sales of cancer drug Erbitux rose 21 percent to $196 million.

Abilify continued to gain ground, in part because it does not cause worrisome weight gains seen with rival treatments, with sales jumping 28 percent to $529 million.

Bristol-Myers reaffirmed it expects 2008 earnings from continuing operations, excluding special items, of between $1.60 and $1.70 per share.

That would reflect growth of up to 14.8 percent from last year.

The drugmaker also reaffirmed it expects earnings per share to grow by at least 15 percent annually through 2010.