Lilly loses ground in fourth quarter to generics

Eli Lilly and Co said on Tuesday that fourth-quarter earnings fell as competition from generic drugs, particularly for its top-selling schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, drove revenue lower.

The U.S. drugmaker earned $827 million, or 74 cents per share, compared with $858 million, or 77 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items such as asset impairments and restructuring, Lilly earned 85 cents per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting 78 cents per share.

Revenue dropped by about 1 percent to $5.96 billion, above Wall Street expectations of $5.81 billion.

The company said falling sales from the loss of the Zyprexa patent was partly offset by gains in sales of other drugs and its animal health products.

Lilly said it expects earnings this year to increase to $3.82 to $3.97 per share, excluding special items. It said profit would benefit by 7 cents per share from a research and development tax credit that was delayed until this year due to the late signing of federal legislation.

It predicted sales will be flat to a bit higher this year, despite expected generic competition in December for its $5-billion-a-year antidepressant Cymbalta.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer and Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jeffrey Benkoe)