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Bristol-Myers posts 65% drop

October 27, 2006|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. reported a 65% plunge in third-quarter earnings Thursday as sales of the anti-clotting drug Plavix were hurt by a cheaper generic, but the company raised its full-year profit outlook because of cost savings and lower taxes.

Some analysts expressed concern about future Plavix sales, fourth-quarter results and 2007 prospects.

New York-based Bristol-Myers earned $338 million, or 17 cents a share, from continuing operations, compared with $964 million, or 49 cents, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Excluding special items, the company earned 22 cents a share. Analysts on average expected 20 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Quarterly sales fell 13% to $4.15 billion -- a bit shy of Wall Street forecasts of $4.18 billion -- as Plavix was mauled by competition from the early-August introduction of a cheaper generic by privately held Canadian drug maker Apotex Inc.

A deal between Bristol-Myers and Apotex to delay the generic for years fell apart and is now under criminal investigation by the U.S. government for possible antitrust violations. The probe has been widened to review whether the deal violated federal securities laws, Bristol-Myers said Thursday.

U.S. sales of Plavix plunged 43% to $474 million. They would have fallen far more if the generic had been available for the entire quarter.

Bristol-Myers said it expected "some" sales of Plavix in the fourth quarter but did not provide a forecast.

The company boosted its full-year profit forecast to $1.02 to $1.07 a share from its earlier prediction of no less than 95 cents a share. Even so, the new forecast represents a decline of at least 25% from last year's results.

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