Better Outlook for Bristol - TheStreet

Better Outlook for Bristol

Quarterly revenue meets estimates.
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Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

on Thursday raised its full-year earnings guidance by 5 cents a share in order to reflect the "continued strong performance" of several key products and cost controls.

The New York-based drugmaker boosted its forecast, excluding special items, to a range of $1.35 to $1.45. The outlook came as it announced second-quarter results that were in line with Wall Street estimates.

For 2007, analysts were expecting $1.42 a share. For 2008, analysts are looking at $1.62 a share. Bristol projected a range of $1.60 to $1.70, excluding items.

However, investors weren't impressed. Bristol's stock fell 94 cents, or 3%, to $30.65 on a day when most Big Pharma stocks were trading in the red.

For the March to June quarter, Bristol earned 37 cents a share, excluding one-time items, which is one penny better than the consensus of analysts polled by Thomson First Call. Revenue of $4.93 billion matched expectations.

When items are included, Bristol earned $706 million, or 36 cents a share, vs. the year-ago profit of $667 million, or 34 cents a share, on revenue of $4.87 billion.

Sales of the biggest drug, the anticoagulant Plavix, rose 4% from last year to $1.19 billion. Plavix, which accounts for about 24% of sales, is recovering from a temporary attack of

generic versions of the medication.

The drug will be "an important growth driver" for the next few years, James Cornelius, the CEO, told analysts.

Although a generic drugmaker shipped cheap copies of Plavix for only three weeks last August, the shipments were so enormous that Bristol's second-half 2006 sales and earnings

were pounded. Generic Plavix also caused some weakness in the first half of this year. Bristol said generics cut $50 million to $100 million in sales in the second quarter.

Shipments of generic Plavix were eventually blocked by a judge pending a ruling on a patent infringement suit against the generic drugmaker, Canada's

Apotex

. On June 19, Bristol and

Sanofi-Aventis

(SNY) - Get Report

, which holds the Plavix patent and licenses it to Bristol for marketing in the U.S. and Canada, won a federal court suit against Apotex.

Bristol said the decision means that Plavix's patent remains in force until November 2011, adding that damages against Apotex will be assessed "at a later time." Apotex has filed an appeal, and Bristol said it cannot predict when or how the appeals court will rule. If Bristol and Sanofi-Aventis lose, such a verdict would be "material" to corporate sales, operations, cash flow and liquidity, Bristol said.

Among Bristol's other major products, second-quarter sales of the antipsychotic Abilify rose 27% to $412 million. Sales of the Sustiva family of HIV drugs gained 21% to $233 million, while Reyataz, another HIV treatment, added 8% to $254 million.

The blood-pressure drugs Avapro and Avalide combined for sales of $297 million, up 6%. Sales of the Erbitux cancer drug dropped 6% to $162 million, while the cholesterol drug Pravachol continued to wither due to generic competition, falling 59% to $132 million.