Eli Lilly Sees Profit at High End of Forecast

Drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY) on Friday said it will post earnings per share at the high end of its forecast for this year, and its estimates for next year topped analysts projections.

The company said, excluding items, it expects to come in at the top of its earnings outlook of $2.80 to $2.86 per share for 2005. Including a charge to settle a product liability dispute in the second quarter for its anti-psychotic medication Zyprexa, the company expects full-year earnings per share at the high end of a $1.90 to $1.96 range.

For 2006, the company forecast earnings per share of $3.10 to $3.20 excluding items. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial predicted earnings of $3.08 in 2006.

The company said it expects to submit five new products to government regulators for review in the next four years as it seeks new indications for existing products. It plans to submit an application for Arxxant, a drug to prevent blindness caused by diabetes, to regulators by the end of February. Some analysts were expecting a submission later this year but don't believe the delay is significant.

Another drug that has piqued analysts' interest is blood thinner Prasugrel, which the company expects to submit in 2007. Analysts agree Prasugrel has blockbuster potential.

Lilly also said it plans to reduce the average development cost for new drugs by one-third to $800 million from $1.2 billion by the end of the decade.