Schering-Plough Earnings Double on Strong Drug Sales

Schering-Plough Corp. (SGP) said Monday its second-quarter profit more than doubled as revenue climbed 13 percent on the strength of cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia. Its shares rose more than 2 percent.

Net income after paying preferred dividends climbed to $517 million, or 34 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30 from $237 million, or 16 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding charges related to a licensing payment and the planned acquisition of Organon BioSciences NV by year's end, the company would have earned 41 cents per share in the latest period.

Sales grew to $3.18 billion from $2.82 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected the company to post profit of 35 cents per share on sales of $3.07 billion. Such estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Including an adjustment of an assumed 50 percent of global cholesterol joint venture net sales, Schering-Plough's adjusted net sales would have totaled $3.8 billion, up 15 percent year-over-year.

Kenilworth-based Schering-Plough does not record sales of its cholesterol joint venture with Merck & Co. (MRK), as the venture is accounted for under the equity method.

"Seven out of our 10 largest-selling products, including Vytorin and Zetia, posted double-digit sales growth for the quarter," said Fred Hassan, chairman and CEO.

Its shares rose 75 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $32.24 in morning trading.

The top-selling products and their results: Remicade, for arthritis and other inflammatory immune disorders, up 28 percent to $394 million; Nasonex, for allergies, up 22 percent to $295 million; Pegintron, hepatitis C, up 3 percent to $234 million; Clarinex, an antihistamine, up 11 percent to $250 million; and Temodar, for brain tumors, grew 26 percent to $216 million.

The company's consumer health care segment posted $394 million in sales in the second quarter, up 13 percent compared with a year earlier. The increase was driven by higher sales of over-the-counter Claritin, and the February launch of MiraLAX, marking the first switch from prescription to over-the-counter sales in the laxative category in more than 30 years.

Sales in the animal health segment increased 10 percent to $264 million in the quarter with international growth led by the poultry, companion animal, aquaculture and swine product lines, along with a positive impact from currency exchange rates.

For the first half of the year, Schering-Plough earned $1.06 billion, or 70 cents a share, after paying preferred stock dividends, versus $587 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago. Half-year net sales rose 14.6 percent to $6.2 billion from $5.4 billion a year ago.