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Big Number at Schering-Plough

Earnings and sales easily get past analysts' targets.
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Updated from 9:04 AM EDT



surged past Wall Street's profit estimates for the first quarter owing to big sales increases in drugs like Remicade, Nasonex and Clarinex.

The Kenilworth, N.J., pharmaceuticals maker said net income for the period was $543 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with $350 million and 24 cents a share in the same period a year earlier. Excluding charges, Schering-Plough would have earned 42 cents in the latest quarter.

Sales for the quarter totaled $2.98 billion, up 17% year over year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for adjusted earnings of 29 cents on revenue of $2.74 billion.

The results sent the stock soaring $2.56, or 9%, to $31.11, on volume that was nearly three times greater than the daily average. Schering-Plough's stock has gained almost 50% since late November.

"Our first-quarter performance demonstrates that we continue to hone our competitive edge, extend our core businesses and deliver very strong results," said Fred Hassan, chairman and CEO, in a press release Thursday. "We sustained the momentum in the first quarter that we built in our business over the last three years."

Global cholesterol joint venture net sales, which include Vytorin and Zetia, totaled $1.2 billion in the first quarter, a 48% increase from last year. Schering-Plough doesn't record sales of its cholesterol joint venture with


(MRK) - Get Free Report

because of the way the accounting is conducted for the venture. Vytorin combines Schering-Plough's Zetia with Merck's Zocor.

Aside from the joint venture, Schering-Plough's seven biggest prescription drugs each produced double-digit sales gains during the first quarter, compared with the year-ago period. The animal-health care division and the consumer-health products division also posted double-digit revenue increases.

Remicade, which treats inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, rose 34% to $373 million. Schering-Plough sells the drug in all markets except for the U.S., Japan and several Asian countries.

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Free Report

sells Remicade in the U.S.

The antihistamine Nasonex added 24% to $284 million, while the allergy medication Clarinex gained 28% to $204 million.

Hassan reiterated that he expects the acquisition of the Organon BioSciences division from

Akzo Nobel


to be completed by year-end, subject to regulatory approvals. Last month,

Schering-Plough offered $14.4 billion for the producer of human drugs and animal-health care products.