The Pfizer Inc. company logo and the AstraZeneca Plc company logo, top, are seen on boxes of pharmaceutical products produced by the companies in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, May 2, 2014. AstraZeneca Plc rejected Pfizer Inc.Õs sweetened takeover proposal, saying the 63.1 billion-pound ($106.5 billion) offer fails to recognize the value of the promising experimental medicines under development by the U.K.Õs second-biggest drugmaker. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

New York - Pfizer, the drug maker trying to buy AstraZeneca, reported profit yesterday that beat analyst estimates as it cut costs to offset falling sales.

Sales were $11.4 billion (R119bn), below the $12.1bn average expected. But Pfizer reported first-quarter earnings, excluding one-time items, of 57c a share, 2c above analyst estimates.

Pfizer is in the middle of the drug industry’s most dramatic transition. It has split internally into three separate businesses, one of older products and two brand name units, while also pursuing the acquisition of London-based AstraZeneca.

Net income fell 15 percent to $2.33bn, or 36c a share, from $2.75bn, or 38c.

Pfizer said it would change its full-year earnings guidance, although it was not permitted to do so now because of rules surrounding its offer to buy the UK drug maker.

Pfizer offered AstraZeneca about £63.1bn (R1.114 trillion) in cash and stock, an offer that was rejected on Friday as too low. The deal is being looked at closely by the UK government because of concerns that it could reduce British jobs.

Pfizer for the first time provided separate financial results for the three units. Its global established products business, made up of off- patent and older drugs, including cholesterol pill Lipitor, is Pfizer’s biggest, and had sales of $5.99bn.

Sales at a unit of brand name drugs, called the global innovative products business, fell 7 percent, as Pfizer lost revenue from Enbrel, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Cancer and vaccines sales, the third unit, rose.

The quarter’s results were helped by an 11 percent reduction in cost of sales, which fell to $2.05bn. Administrative expenses declined 6 percent to $3.04bn, and spending on research and development decreased by 5 percent to $1.62bn. – Bloomberg