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Biogen's Earnings Pushed Ahead of Estimates by Avonex

Revenue from the multiple sclerosis drug was up 29% from a year ago.

Updated from 9 a.m. EDT



said Tuesday that third-quarter earnings reached 46 cents a share, topping Wall Street estimates by 2 cents.

Third-quarter net income at the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech firm was $70 million, up from $68 million in the year-ago period. Third-quarter revenue totaled $265 million, a 13% increase over the same period in 2000.

Analysts were expecting Biogen to report earnings of 44 cents a share, according to consensus estimates compiled by Thomson Financial/First Call. Third-quarter revenue matched analysts' expectations.

Biogen makes the bulk of its profits from the sale of the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex. Sales of the drug in the third quarter were $249 million, up 29% over the third-quarter 2000. In a statement issued before the market opened Tuesday, Biogen President and CEO Jim Mullen described international Avonex sales as "strong," although "there are some markets -- especially in Germany -- where we clearly have work to do."

Avonex and Betaseron, marketed by Berlex Laboratories, have a monopoly on the U.S. multiple sclerosis market because of the drugs' orphan drug status. Avonex's biggest competition in Europe comes from Rebiff, which is made by Swiss biotech firm

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During the third quarter, Biogen paid an $8 million fee as part of a drug development collaboration with



. Excluding the fee, Biogen reported third-quarter earnings of 49 cents a share.

Biogen closed Monday at $56.49 a share.