Bristol-Myers Reports Stronger 3Q, Lifts Guidance

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) reported on Thursday a higher third-quarter profit that trumped Wall Street expectations, as demand for its stroke and schizophrenia drugs, and newly launched products, helped improve sales.

The New York-based drug giant posted net earnings of $969 million, or 56 cents a share, compared with $949 million, or 55 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it earned 61 cents a share, which is ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 58 cents.

Revenue climbed 11% to $5.35 billion and edged just ahead of the Street’s view of $5.3 billion.

Sales during the three-month period were led by the company’s stroke drug Plavix, the  company’s biggest product by far, and schizophrenia treatment Abilify. Its recently launched diabetes drug Kombiglyze also performed well.

Bristol-Myers, which benefited this year from a string of regulatory approvals and positive research outcomes for its drugs, is hoping to bring a slew of new products to the market next year to help offset the expected loss of U.S. exclusivity for Plavix.

Companies across the healthcare sector have been dealing with an influx of less costly generic medicines, particularly as patents for some of their top products start running out.

Bristol-Myers lifted its guidance to the range of $2.25 to $2.30 a share, excluding items, in line with analyst estimates of $2.28 a share. The company raised the lower end of its earlier forecast by 5 cents.

The pharmaceutical company's larger rival, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) said on Thursday that competition from generic drugs and pricing pressures has already started to weigh on its sales.

However, Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker said sales were up 4% to $8.21 billion, trumping the Street’s view of $8.16 billion.

The company also raised its fiscal forecast, excluding items, to a range of $7.20 to $7.40 a share, from its earlier view of $7.05 to $7.35 a share. Analysts are looking for a profit of $7.33.

Bristol-Myers and AstraZeneca said late Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration extended by three months the review of their joint diabetes treatment dapagliflozin.

An FDA advisory panel earlier this year recommended against approval of the drug, which is grim news for the companies, as the agency is known to follow its panel's recommendations closely.