Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. reported a fourth-quarter loss Thursday because of special charges and generic competition for its Plavix blood-clot drug, but results beat expectations.
The New York-based company said it lost $134 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a profit of $499 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding special items, Bristol-Myers earned 19 cents a share. Analysts, on average, expected 16 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
The special charges include $353 million in additional reserves toward a proposed $499-million settlement, following federal probes into the company's pricing and marketing practices. It took another $220-million charge to retire debt.
The company forecast 2007 earnings, excluding items, of $1.20 to $1.30 a share. The Reuters Estimates forecast is $1.22 a share. Although fourth-quarter sales fell 16% to $4.21 billion, they were a bit higher than the $4.18 billion Reuters Estimates forecast. Bristol-Myers said revenue from Plavix, which is sold in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis, fell 53% to $496 million, as remaining supplies of a copycat made by Canadian drug maker Apotex Inc. continued to cut into sales.
But that is an improvement over earlier quarters, when sales of Plavix plunged more than 70%.
Apotex is forbidden from shipping any more of its generic, which it introduced in the U.S. last August, because of an ongoing patent battle in New York federal court. But supplies of its copycat already in warehouses and drugstores continue to be sold.
Other Bristol-Myers products were battered by generic competition in Europe, including cholesterol fighter Pravachol, whose global sales fell 75% to $146 million, and cancer drug Taxol, which fell 28% to $130 million. Newer products continued to gain popularity, including blood pressure treatment Avapro -- also partnered with Sanofi-Aventis -- whose sales rose 11% to $307 million.
Sales of schizophrenia drug Abilify jumped 62% to $362 million, helped by growing demand in Europe and the drug's reputation for not causing weight gains seen with rival products such as Eli Lilly & Co.'s Zyprexa.
Colon cancer treatment Erbitux, sold in partnership with ImClone Systems Inc., jumped 38% to $167 million, helped by its approval last March for head and neck cancer.
Bristol-Myers stock fell 71 cents, or 2.6%, to $26.28.