Lilly Profit Beats Analyst Estimates as Cymbalta Sales Climb

Eli Lilly & Co. reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates as sales of its top-selling drug, the Cymbalta depression treatment, increased 20 percent, helped by higher prices in the U.S.

Earnings excluding one-time items of 85 cents a share beat by 6 cents the average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net income fell 4 percent to $827.2 million, or 74 cents a share, Indianapolis-based Lilly said in a statement.

Lilly has struggled to boost earnings as generic copies take sales from its schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, which generated $5 billion in annual revenue before losing patent protection in October 2011. Chief Executive Officer John Lechleiter has said profit won’t grow again until after 2014, when Cymbalta loses market exclusivity.

“2013 is the eye of the storm between Zyprexa and Cymbalta, so we’ll see,” said Judson Clark, an analyst with Edward Jones in a phone interview. “Their pipeline needs to step up.”

Lilly said it has 13 drugs in the final stages of testing and expects to seek regulatory approval this year for two new cancer medicines and three new diabetes treatments.

Revenue fell 1 percent to $5.96 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $5.8 billion, helped by its animal health unit’s 18 percent increase in sales to $554.1 million.

Animal Health

Lilly Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice said the company has no plans to sell or spin off its animal health unit despite a similar move by rival Pfizer Inc., which is planning to break off its animal division.

Lilly raised its 2013 forecast by 7 cents a share to $3.82 to $3.97, excluding certain items, due to a delayed research tax credit. The company previously forecast $3.75 to $3.90 a share.

Lilly rose 3.2 percent to $54.32 at 4 p.m. New York time. The shares have gained 39 percent in the past 12 months.

Sales of Zyprexa fell 49 percent to $384.8 million in the quarter after losing patent protection in the same quarter a year earlier. That loss was partly offset by revenue from the antidepressant Cymbalta, which increased to $1.42 billion.

Sales of the diabetes treatment Humalog fell 7 percent to $616 million and the cancer therapy Alimta gained 7 percent to $684.3 million.

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