Forest Labs Net Falls on Generic Competition to Lexapro

Forest Laboratories Inc., the drugmaker in a proxy battle with billionaire Carl Icahn, said first-quarter profit dropped 79 percent after its top-selling medicine, the antidepressant Lexapro, lost patent exclusivity.

Net income in the three months ended in June sank to $55.3 million, or 21 cents a share, from $258.1 million, or 90 cents, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Earnings excluding one-time items of 28 cents a share missed by 4 cents the average of seven analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Forest started selling three new products before Lexapro, which accounted for almost half of the company’s revenue in fiscal 2011, faced competition from cheaper generic copies in March. The drugmaker is fighting its second proxy battle in as many years with Icahn, who contends the company’s management didn’t adequately prepare for the loss of Lexapro’s exclusivity.

“The quarter was OK, not great,” Corey Davis, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., said in a telephone interview today. “But it wasn’t expected to be great. All the newer products did pretty well, but they’re still so small that it’s hard for them to impact the numbers.”

Revenue declined to $821.1 million, falling short of analysts’ average $830.3 million estimate.

New Drugs

Teflaro, an antibiotic, was approved in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat pneumonia and skin infections. Viibryd was approved in January 2011 for major depressive disorder, while Daliresp was cleared in March 2011 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Forest also sells Namenda for Alzheimer’s disease, Bystolic for hypertension and Savella for fibromyalgia. The company said it expects to hear from U.S. regulators in the next few weeks about the approval status of aclidinium for long-term maintenance treatment of COPD, and to hear later this summer about linaclotide for irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation.

“We have deliberately and strategically diversified our product portfolio so that we would not be dependent on any single product or therapeutic area,” Howard Solomon, Forest’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We are pleased with the performance this quarter of three of our most recent product launches, Teflaro, Daliresp and Viibryd, which were introduced last year. It is still early days for these products but they are performing well in-line with our expectations.”

Forest rose 1.8 percent to $35.82 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 6.9 percent in the last 12 months.

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