Pfizer: Profits Drop, Beat Forecasts

The loss of patent protection for its flagship cholesterol drug, Lipitor, led an earnings drop at Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), which still managed to beat analysts’ expectations. The company also its lowered year-end earnings forecast.

The company announced that earnings for the first quarter dropped 19% to $1.79 billion, down from $2.2 billion during the same period last year. Diluted EPS was 24 cents, compared to 28 cents in 2011. Excluding special charges, the company reported EPS of 58 cents a share, down from 60 cents last year, but exceeding the 56 cents anticipated by analysts, Bloomberg noted.

Quarterly revenue fell to $15.4 billion, down from $16.5 billion in 2011. The company attributed the decline to the end of patent protection for Lipitor. Sales of Lipitor sank 42% during the quarter as consumers switched to lower-cost generic versions. Lipitor’s fall led an overall 25% drop in drug sales.

Pfizer lowered its year-end forecast for diluted EPS to an estimate of between $1.23 and $1.38, down from earlier guidance of between $1.37 and $1.52.

In pre-market trading Tuesday, Pfizer shares slipped about 1%. 

CEO Ian Read said that Pfizer saw increased sales of its Celebrex, Lyrica and Enbrel medications, as well as Chinese sales growth during the quarter.

The company recorded a $450 million charge related to a lawsuit over the development of its Celebrex drug during the quarter. Pfizer previously announced plans to sell its animal health and infant nutrition businesses.

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