Bristol-Myers Profit Tops Estimates as Drug Sales Increase

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY), whose top-selling blood thinner Plavix faces generic competition next year, reported first-quarter profit that was more than analysts’ estimates on higher drug sales.

Net income increased 33 percent to $986 million, or 57 cents a share, from $743 million, or 43 cents, a year earlier when the company took a $200 million charge to close a plant, New York-based Bristol-Myers said. Excluding one-time items, profit rose to 58 cents, beating the 53-cent average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Bristol-Myers has been eliminating jobs and divesting nondrug businesses as it prepares for generic competition to Plavix, its best-selling drug with $1.76 billion in sales for the quarter. The company received U.S. approval for its skin- cancer drug Yervoy in March and is expecting decisions from regulators for three more medicines by 2012.

Bristol-Myers “remains hands down the best pipeline story among the U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies we cover,” said Tim Anderson, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., in a note to clients today. “It has jettisoned its various non- pharma businesses to become the most pure-play pharmaceutical company among the nine we cover in the U.S. and Europe.”

Bristol-Myers rose 1 cent to $28.29 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has gained 16 percent in the past 12 months.

Sales Rise

Sales increased 4.2 percent to $5.01 billion, beating analyst estimates of $4.94 billion. U.S. sales increased 5 percent to $3.3 billion. International sales rose 3 percent to $1.8 billion, boosted by favorable exchange rates for medicines sold outside the U.S. The U.S. health-care overhaul hampered earnings by about 3 cents a share, the company said.

Bristol-Myers reiterated its 2011 forecast for profit excluding one-time items of $2.10 a share to $2.20 a share.

Revenue from Plavix, the world’s second-biggest-selling medicine, rose 6 percent from the same period a year earlier. Plavix is co-marketed with Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis SA. (SAN) The drug faces generic competition in the U.S. in May 2012. New York-based Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Lipitor is the world’s top-selling drug.

Sales of the Avapro and Avalide medicines for blood pressure fell 8 percent to $290 million. Avalide pills were recalled after a manufacturing glitch was discovered that may reduce the drug’s effectiveness. Two of the three dosages that were recalled were back on the market in February. The third dosage remains unavailable, according to the company.

Quicker Recovery

Avalide sales recovered from the recall quicker than expected and contributed to 2 cents per share of the company’s profits above analyst estimates, said Marc Goodman, an analyst with UBS Securities LLC, in a report today. Cost reductions accounted for the rest of the unexpected gains, he said.

Sales of the antipsychotic drug, Abilify, increased 1 percent to $624 million. Bristol-Myers has said the U.S. health- law changes will hurt sales of that drug because Medicaid, the federal and state health program for low-income people, is cutting rebates.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Randall in New York at trandall6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale in New York at rgale5@bloomberg.net.

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