Allergan

(AGN) - Get Report

slightly beat Wall Street's estimates for the fourth quarter and expects earnings to increase by 20% in 2001.

The specialty pharmaceutical and eye-care products company reported earnings of $65.1 million, or 48 cents a share, up from $59.3 million, or 40 cents a share in the year-ago period. Twelve analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

were calling for Allergan to earn 47 cents in the quarter.

Sales increased to $400.7 million from $380.3 million in the same period last year.

In October the company said it expected revenue of $400 million to $415 million and earnings to be about 20% higher than the 40 cents Allergan earned in the fourth quarter last year.

Today the company reiterated its previously stated guidance of 20% earnings growth for the year, which equals $1.92 a share for 2001. The company said it expects earnings to increase 10% in the first quarter, 18% in the second, and more then 20% in the third and fourth quarters when compared with the corresponding year-ago periods, because of the anticipated launch of a new product called Lumigan.

Allergan estimated "relatively modest" growth in the first quarter when compared with the year-ago period, because last year's quarter was driven by restocking of pharmaceutical products associated with the year 2000 mania. The company projected earnings of 35 cents a share on sales of between $390 million and $405 million. The consensus estimate is 39 cents for the first quarter and $1.90 for the year.

Shares of Allergan, which is based in Irvine, Calif., traded down $2.80, or 3.3%, to $81.45 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading.