AmerisourceBergen Warns

It cites weak pricing in its fourth quarter.
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Growing price competition in the pharmaceuticals market has led another drug distributor,


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, to lower profit estimates.

The Valley Forge, Pa., distributor expects to earn $3.95 to $4.05 a share in the year ended Sept. 30, excluding special items. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting earnings of $4.15 for the period. The company cited "lower than anticipated pharmaceutical price increases in the September quarter."

For fiscal 2005, Amerisource expects earnings of $4.20 to $4.30 a share, with most of the increase over 2004 coming in the year's second half. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $4.29 a share.

"We are clearly disappointed in our fiscal 2004 performance in what has been a challenging time for our industry," the company said.

Amerisource said its 2005 estimate contemplates growth in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry in the low double digits, including price appreciation of roughly 5%. The company expects revenue and operating earnings in 2005 to be the same as they were in 2004, with the per-share improvement coming from a share buyback and a lower interest expense.

The warning follows similar dour outlooks from fellow drug distributors

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