Pfizer's Profit Boosted by Lipitor Sales

Pfizer Inc. (PFE), the world's largest research-based drug maker, said Wednesday that second-quarter earnings rose 21 percent, helped by strong sales of the company's blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor (search).

Net income grew to $3.46 billion, or 47 cents per share, from $2.86 billion, or 38 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding multiple items and the $9 million impact of discontinued operations, Pfizer would have posted earnings of $3.42 billion, or 46 cents per share, in the latest quarter.

Revenue for the second quarter of 2005 edged up 1 percent to $12.43 billion from $12.27 billion last year.

The results topped analysts' expectations for earnings of 44 cents per share on sales of $12.15 billion.

Looking ahead, the company said that due to the recent strengthening of the dollar versus the euro and British pound, it now forecasts a modest decline in revenue for the full year. Pfizer also noted that cost of sales as a percentage of revenue will stay under pressure throughout the year.

Lipitor sales rose 21 percent to $2.86 billion. But safety concerns, competition and patent expirations weighed on results from other key drugs.

Revenue from pain reliever Celebrex (search) plunged 45 percent to $401 million as safety concerns continue to haunt the drug studies have linked to cardiovascular risks. Moreover, Celebrex belongs to the same class of drugs as Merck & Co.'s (MRK) Vioxx and Pfizer's own Bextra, both of which have been withdrawn from the market because of safety risks.

Erectile dysfunction drug Viagra's revenues edged up only 1 percent to $391 million. The drug has been struggling with competition and a sluggish market for such treatments. Anti-depressant Zoloft also only reported a 1 percent sales increase, with revenues growing to $769 million.

Meanwhile, patent expirations drove down sales of anti-fungal treatment Diflucan and blood pressure treatment Accupril. Diflucan revenue sank 55 percent to $129 million while Accupril sales dropped 53 percent to $73 million.

At current exchange rates, Pfizer is continuing to target 2005 operating earnings of about $1.98 per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.

The company said the strengthened U.S. dollar, at current rates, also will have an adverse impact in 2006 and 2007. Nonetheless, the company is maintaining its estimate for double-digit percentage growth of adjusted earnings per share in 2006 and 2007.

For the first six months of the year, Pfizer's net income fell 28 percent to $3.76 billion, or 51 cents a share, from $5.2 billion, or 68 cents a share, last year. Six-month revenue rose 3 percent to $25.52 billion from $24.76 billion.