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Allergan's earnings climb 19%

Sales of Botox help lift the Irvine company's fourth-quarter profit, but net income's increase was less than what some analysts had expected. Demand for the firm's Lap-Band product slid 10%.

February 03, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer

Irvine-based Allergan Inc., which manufactures wrinkle-erasing Botox and the Lap-Band weight-loss system, saw its profit increase 19% in the fourth quarter, but that was still below what some analysts had been expecting.

The company said Wednesday that it earned $263.1 million during the last three months of 2010, or 85 cents a share, compared with $221.5 million, or 72 cents, a year earlier. Global sales rose 6.9% to $1.29 billion in the same period.

Sales of Botox were up 11%, an increase that Allergan Chief Executive David E.I. Pyott attributed in part to the global economic recovery. But sales of its obesity intervention products, mainly Lap-Band, were down nearly 10% for the quarter. Pyott blamed the decrease on high unemployment in the United States.

Lap-Band customers who pay cash for the procedures have fallen to 10% from about 33% before the recent recession, Pyott said. "You can see that market has fallen off the cliff," he said.

Still, the company reported a record $4.8 billion in sales for the year, an 8% increase over 2009.

"Allergan is growing strongly in every operating region of the world," Pyott said.

Allergan's financial performance fell short of some analysts' forecasts and its estimated sales of $5 billion to $5.2 billion for 2011 did not match some of its past vibrant growth. Allergan shares closed Wednesday at $70.79, down 53 cents.

The company estimated that Botox sales would be $1.49 billion to $1.54 billion in 2011, up from about $1.4 billion last year. 2011 will mark the first full year that Botox will be allowed as a treatment for migraine headaches in the United States.

"There is great physician interest in the headache community. Our sales force is fully deployed," Pyott said.

Allergan estimated that sales of its obesity intervention products would be $220 million to $240 million this year, a slight reduction from 2010.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has recommended that Lap-Band surgeries be allowed for less-obese people, a step that could significantly increase the pool of U.S. residents eligible for the surgery.

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