Pfizer Profit Drops on Loss of Lipitor Exclusivity

Pfizer eported quarterly earnings on Thursday that was largely in line with analysts' forecasts, but revenue fell short following the loss of patent protection on its blockbuster Lipitor cholesterol fighter.

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The pharmaceutical company announced third-quarter earnings excluding items of 53 ents per share, down from 62 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

The current quarter reflected a previously announced 2 cents a share reduction related a $250 million deal with AstraZeneca to acquire the global rights to the non-prescription version of the heartburn drug Nexium.

Shares of the drug giant fell in pre-market trading. (Get real-time quotes for Pfizer here.)

Revenue fell to $14 billion from $17.19 billion a year ago. The drop was primarily due to the loss of exclusivity of Lipitor on Nov. 30, 2011, the company said. Lipitor sales fell 71 percent to $749 million in the current quarter.

"Overall, our results this quarter reflect continued product losses of exclusivity, most notably Lipitor in all major markets. Despite a challenging and dynamic environment, worldwide revenues from many of our key medicines, including Enbrel, Celebrex, and Lyrica, continued to grow operationally," Ian Read, Pfizer's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Analysts had expected Pfizer to report $14.64 billion in revenue and earnings of 53 cents per share, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Pfizer cut its full-year earnings estimate to $2.14 to $2.17 a share from $2.14 to $2.22 a share, and narrowed its revenue forecast to $58 billion to $59 billion from $58 billion to $60 billion.

Pfizer's board of directors also authorized a $10 billion stock buyback program, following the sale of its nutrition business to Nestle.

—Reuters contributed to this report.