New York - Pfizer reported third-quarter profit yesterday that beat analysts’ estimates as the biggest drug maker cut costs while sales of its top vaccine and pain drugs increased.
Earnings excluding one-time items for the three months to September came in at 58 US cents (R5.69) a share, 2c more than the average of 16 analysts’ estimates. Sales fell 2 percent to $12.6 billion from $13bn a year before, or $14bn including a now-divested animal health business, New York-based Pfizer said in a statement.
Pfizer is pushing to expand sales of pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar, its second-biggest product, since losing marketing exclusivity for cholesterol medication Lipitor, once the world’s biggest-selling drug. It also used proceeds from the divestiture of units to buy back stock and boost earnings a share.
Investors are seeking detail on whether chief executive Ian Read will break the company into two or three entities, keep them as separate in-house units or sell part of the group.
“There could be strategic interest in one or more of these businesses,” Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst at International Strategy & Investment Group, said earlier this month. “In a strategic acquirer’s hands, these businesses could be worth much more.”
Pfizer narrowed its projection of full-year earnings a share, excluding certain items, to between $2.15 and $2.20 from $2.10 to $2.20.
Third-quarter net income fell 19 percent to $2.59bn, or 39c a share, from $3.21bn, or 43c.
Pfizer rose less than 1 percent to $30.74 on Monday in New York trading.
The company has been among the hardest hit by drugs losing patent protection. Lipitor began facing competition from generic copycats in 2011. Tony Butler, an analyst with Barclays, said expectations for Eliquis, a blood thinner, were still low, and Xeljanz, a rheumatoid arthritis pill, had had slow demand as well.
In July, Pfizer reorganised its operations into a generic- drug and off-patent business, and two brand-name units. The company may begin reporting the profits and losses of each business separately next year. Read has portrayed the move as a way to further focus Pfizer’s businesses, and help the company successfully develop and introduce new drugs to replace lost revenue. – Bloomberg