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Double-Digit Gains at Pfizer, Schering-Plough

Strong sales of blockbuster drugs lift 3rd-quarter profits by 30% and 14%, respectively.

October 25, 2000|From Reuters and Bloomberg News

Pfizer Inc. and Schering-Plough Corp. on Tuesday posted double-digit profit gains in their third quarter on strong sales of blockbuster medicines, but Pfizer shares fell on what some analysts said was disappointing growth of its cholesterol fighter Lipitor.

Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, said earnings from operating rose 30% to $1.71 billion, or 27 cents a share, beating the consensus Wall Street estimate of 25 cents.

Lower-than-expected expenses and growing sales of Lipitor and the arthritis drug Celebrex helped boost Pfizer's results.

Total revenue rose 7% to $7.21 billion, with sales of Lipitor, Pfizer's crown jewel, up 22% to $1.22 billion.

But some analysts had anticipated an even stronger contribution from Lipitor, which Pfizer seized in its unfriendly acquisition earlier this year of Warner-Lambert Co.

"I was expecting Lipitor sales to be north of $1.3 billion, but they came in at $1.2 billion," said ABN Amro analyst Mario Corso. He added, however, that wholesale stocking patterns, rather than any tapering of demand growth, appeared to be the reason.

Pfizer executives said unusual stocking patterns by wholesalers are returning to normal and should be straightened out by year-end.

Sales of Pfizer's anticonvulsant treatment Neurontin leaped 42%, sales of its anti-impotence drug jumped 36%, and sales of antidepressant Zoloft gained 7%.

Looking forward, Pfizer said it was confident its earnings for 2000 would hit $1.01, 1 cent higher than its previous estimate.

Pfizer shares fell $2.38, or 5%, to close at $43 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Schering-Plough, meanwhile, said earnings rose 14% to $591 million, or 40 cents a share, as its allergy drug Claritin and hepatitis C medication, Rebetron, continued to expand their global sway. The results matched Wall Street estimates.

The firm said it expected earnings per share for 2000 to be in line with analysts' forecasts of $1.64 per share.

Sales grew 7% to $2.4 billion, led by a 10% jump in sales of Claritin. Combined sales of Rebetron and Intron A, an antiviral component of Rebetron that also treats cancer, rose 24%.

Shares of Madison, N.J.-based Schering-Plough fell 50 cents to close at $52.50 on the NYSE.

At a Glance

Other earnings, excluding one-time gains or charges unless noted, include:

* Ameritrade Holding Corp. reported profit of $286,000, or less than a penny a share, contrasted with a loss of $9.2 million, or 5 cents, a year ago, beating estimates of a 3-cent-a-share loss. Revenue grew 75% to $156 million, as trade commissions and clearing fees jumped 72% and interest income increased 79%.

* Barr Laboratories Inc. said fiscal first-quarter earnings grew 20% to $14.2 million, or 38 cents a share, in line with forecasts, but said profit for the full year would be lower than expected as it boosts spending for generic drug research. The latest results beat estimates by one penny. Revenue increased 13% to $111.8 million, led by higher sales of tamoxifen, a drug for treating breast cancer.

* Blockbuster Inc. said cash earnings rose 2.7% to $22.6 million, or 13 cents a share, beating expectations of 10 cents. The company, which is 82% owned by Viacom, said revenue increased 7.3% to $1.19 billion.

* Bowater Inc., the biggest U.S. newsprint maker, had third-quarter profit from operations of $56.5 million, or $1.08 a share, well beyond expectations of 96 cents, as newspapers' surge in advertising enabled it to boost prices. In the year-ago quarter, Bowater had a loss of $16.5 million, or 30 cents a share. Sales rose 23% to $628 million.

* CSX Corp. said third-quarter profit fell 50% to $59 million, or 28 cents a share, a penny better than forecasts, as fuel costs rose and delay-related expenses continued from integrating part of former Conrail Inc. Revenue fell 27% to $2.04 billion, reflecting the sale of Sea-Land shipping and a freight management business.

* Colgate-Palmolive Co. said third-quarter net income rose 15% to $275.3 million, or 44 cents a share, as cost cutting more than offset higher oil prices and the effects of the weak euro. Revenue rose 2% to $2.37 billion. The consumer products company, which last month told analysts to cut sales forecasts because of the falling euro, said revenue was up 7%, excluding the currency effect. Colgate said it will meet analysts' earnings forecasts for its fourth quarter and 2001.

* Dial Corp.'s earnings plunged 86% in its third quarter to $4.4 million, or 5 cents a share, as sales fell 6% to $411.1 million. The maker of consumer products and canned meat said higher raw material costs contributed to the weakness. Analysts on average had expected Dial, whose management is trying to decide whether to put the company up for sale, to post earnings of 3 cents. That estimate was revised down from 14 cents after Dial warned that earnings would drop to 3 cents to 5 cents.

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