Bristol-Myers Squibb Earnings Top Estimates, Revenue Disappoints

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), which sells blood thinner Plavix, today reported better-than-expected third quarter earnings, mainly due to cost cuts. Revenue, which was negatively impacted by the U.S. health care reform and lower sales of some products, fell short of expectations. Earnings from continuing operations rose over 6% to $949 million from $892 million last year. At 11 AM Tuesday, the stock was essentially flat with prior day's close at $27 per share.

On a per share basis, the New York-based drugmaker earned 55 cents a share in the third quarter, compared to 45 cents a share a year ago. Earnings per share also improved because the company has fewer shares outstanding. Excluding one-time items, the company would have earned 59 cents a share, beating analyst expectations of 53 cents a share. The impact of U.S. health care reform decreased third quarter EPS from continuing operations by approximately 2 cents, the company said.

Despite the upbeat earnings, net sales disappointed, barely rising to $4.8 billion from $4.79 billion a year ago. Analysts were expecting $4.92 billion. Bristol said U.S. health care reform had a 1.6% negative effect on net sales in the third quarter. U.S. net sales increased 4% to $3.1 billion, while international net sales decreased 6% to $1.7 billion (or 3% excluding foreign exchange impact).

Sales of Plavix, the world's second best-selling drug after Pfizer's (PFE) cholesterol med Lipitor, rose 7% to $1.66 billion. Plavix, which is co-marketed with Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) is expected to lose patent protection in 2012, which would expose it to generic competition. Bristol's second best performer, schizophrenia treatment Abilify, saw sales drop 7% in the quarter to $608 million.

Other key products saw sales increases, including hepatitis B medication Baraclude and HIV treatments Sustiva and Reyataz. Chronic myeloid leukemia treatment Sprycel and rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia also posted sales growth. But sales of cancer drug Erbitux (co-marketed with Eli-Lilly (LLY)) declined and sales of type 2 diabetes medication Onglyza continued to disappoint with $47 million in the quarter.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, which has several drug applications worldwide, continues to refocus its pipeline and restructure. In October, it acquired ZymoGenetics, which has potential treatment for Hepatitis C.

Gross margin increased in the quarter, as expenses and spending decreased. The tax rate, too, was lower than last year's period.

The company also confirmed guidance for 2010. It expects earnings per share in the range of $2.10 to $2.20. It estimates revenue will grow in the low-to-mid single-digits.

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