Lilly 1Q Profit Narrows, But Beats on Cymbalta Demand

By Features FOXBusiness

Eli Lilly (LLY) revealed on Wednesday a 25% drop in first-quarter net income, excluding one-time items, as sales of schizophrenia drug Zyprexa plunged after losing patent exclusivity, causing worldwide sales to dip.

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However, the results handily topped Wall Street expectations on strong sales of anti-depression drug Cymbalta, leading the company to lift its fiscal earnings view and back its sales guidance.

Lilly raised its fiscal 2012 profit view to a range of $3.15 to $3.30 a share, excluding items, up from a January forecast between $3.10 and $3.20 a share. Analysts are looking for per-share earnings of $3.18.

The drug maker sees full-year revenue between $21.8 billion and $22.8 billion, in line with Wall Street’s $22.4 billion guidance.

The Indianapolis pharmaceutical giant reported a profit in its latest quarter of $1.01 billion, or 91 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier $1.06 billion, or 95 cents. Excluding one time items, Lilly earned 92 cents, ahead of average analyst estimates of 78 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue for the three-month period was $5.6 billion, down 4% from $5.84 billion a year ago, trumping the Street’s view of $5.36 billion. A 23% jump in Cymbalta sales and higher prices helped offset the sharp 56% drop, to $562.7 million, in Zyprexa, which lost patent exclusivity in October.

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“Notwithstanding the negative effect of the expiration of the Zyprexa patent in the U.S. and many international markets, Lilly demonstrated strong underlying growth in other products and key regions,” Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a statement.

By region, revenue in Lilly’s fastest growing market, China, grew 41%.

Lilly said it anticipates further erosion of Zyprexa sales throughout 2012. In the U.S., the biggest market where it lost its patent exclusivity, sales of the drug tumbled 66% to $202.8 million.

While Cymbalta for now is offsetting some of those declines, the depression drug is set to lose its own patent protection in the U.S. in mid-2013.