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Bristol-Myers, Sanofi Lower Guidance

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and marketing partner Sanofi (SNY - Get Report) warned Friday that their earnings this year will take big hits from sales of a generic version of their Plavix blood-thinning drug.

A federal judge Thursday ruled in the two companies' favor by ordering Apotex, the maker of generic Plavix, to halt sales. But the court didn't require Apotex to recall sales or shipments it has made since launching the generic on Aug. 8. Bristol-Myers and Sanofi said they¿re assuming plenty of damage has already been done.

Bristol-Myers said Friday evening that it now expects 2006 earnings of "no less" than 95 cents a share, about 20% less than its previous EPS forecast of $1.15 to $1.25. The company said it didn't know how much generic Plavix Apotex had sold but was assuming enough had hit the market to satisfy all U.S. demand this year.

Earlier Friday, Sanofi had warned that 2006 adjusted EPS would come in about 2% higher than last year's 4.74 euros, or $6.09. The company previously had forecast 12% growth.

Plavix accounted for $3.8 billion of Bristol's sales last year, or 20% of the total. France's Sanofi-Aventis collected sales of $2.45 billion from the drug, or 7.4% of its total revenue.

Thursday's ruling was a preliminary injunction aimed at preventing Apotex from selling more of its drug until a court can take up its patent challenge against Bristol-Myers and Sanofi in January.

Shares of Bristol-Myers ended Friday up $1.20, or 5.5%, at $22.95, buoyed by investor enthusiasm over the injunction. Sanofi ended the session up 42 cents, or 0.9%, at $45.37.

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