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Allergan Gets Past Estimates

Allergan (AGN), the maker of the wrinkle-zapper Botox, beat analysts' estimates and its own guidance for earnings in the fourth quarter.

The Irvine, Calif., company, which specializes in skin-care, eye-care and neurological products, earned $122 million, or 90 cents a share, in the last quarter of 2005, up from $112.5 million and 85 cents in the year-ago period.

Excluding charges, Allergan earned 91 cents a share, topping analysts' estimates of 89 cents a share and its November forecast of 88 cents to 89 cents a share.

Charges included those related to the termination of a supply agreement with Advanced Medical Optics (EYE) and expenses incurred from efforts to streamline its research and development activities.

Net sales exceeded expectations as well, coming in at $594.9 million compared with Wall Street's target of $583.7 million. Pharmaceutical sales were up 11.3% from a year ago.

Sales of the Botox injection grew 12% to $227 million in the quarter, thanks in part to increased consumer acceptance of the drug and direct-to-consumer advertising, according to Allergan Chairman and CEO David Pyott. In addition, Allergan increased the price of Botox by 4% to $485 per vial of the drug, also known as botulinum toxin A.

Sales of its skin-care products disappointed, however, falling 8.5% because of fewer selling days in the quarter compared with a year earlier.

For 2006, Allergan projected earnings of $3.56 to $3.62 a share not including the impact of its acquisition of Inamed (IMDC), a maker of cosmetic-surgery products, including breast implants. Its guidance does include a charge of 20 cents a share from stock-options expensing.

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