Pfizer beats Wall Street estimates with 3Q growth of drugs and vaccines in emerging markets

Pfizer reported better-than-expected third quarter earnings Tuesday as higher sales in emerging markets like China helped offset missing revenue from former blockbuster drugs that have lost patent protection.

The New York drugmaker reported third-quarter profit of $2.67 billion, or 42 cents per share, up from $2.59 billion, or 39 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Excluding one-time costs and discontinued operations the company would have earned 57 cents per share.

That was better than the average Wall Street estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research, who called for 56 cents per share.

Revenue slipped 2 percent to $12.36 billion but the company did see growth from drugs and vaccines in emerging markets, particularly its Prevnar vaccine against pneumonia. Analysts expected $12.16 billion in revenue for the period, according to Zacks.

Like many other drugmakers, Pfizer has lost patent exclusivity on several of its biggest blockbuster drugs that had raked in billions annually. Those are led by cholesterol fighter Lipitor, which lost patent protection in November 2011 after nearly a decade as the world's top-selling drug.

Pfizer executives highlighted the company's growth in emerging markets, which grew 9 percent in the quarter, helped by sales of Prevnar and Lipitor in China.

"Overall, I am pleased with our third-quarter 2014 financial results despite the continued negative impact from product losses of exclusivity and the termination of certain co-promotion collaborations," CFO Frank D'Amelio said in a prepared statement.

Last spring, Pfizer made an unsuccessful bid to buy British drugmaker AstraZeneca for $119 billion, which would have been the largest deal in pharmaceutical history. Besides gaining AstraZeneca's drugs and pipeline, Pfizer wanted to move its legal headquarters to England to get a lower tax rate than it faces in the U.S., a strategy called "inversion" that is suddenly hot in corporate America.

CEO Ian Read did not offer any hints of potential future acquisition targets for the company, stating only that Pfizer executives "remain opportunistic regarding business development that can enhance or accelerate our strategy."

Pfizer expects full-year earnings in the range of $2.23 to $2.27 per share, from a prior estimate of $2.20 to $2.30. The company predicts full-year revenue in the range of $48.7 billion to $49.7 billion.

Pfizer shares have dropped 5 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen 6 percent. The stock has declined 5 percent in the last 12 months.


This story includes elements generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. PFE stock research report from Zacks.


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