Bristol-Myers Guides Up - TheStreet

Bristol-Myers Guides Up

Shares are still lower.
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Shares of

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

fell Thursday even though the company raised its full-year guidance, beat Wall Street's expectations with its first-quarter results and hired a permanent chief executive.

For the three months ended March 31, the New York drugmaker earned 38 cents a share, excluding items, on revenue of $4.5 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had forecast 23 cents, excluding items, on revenue of $4.33 billion.

On a GAAP basis, the company earned $690 million, or 35 cents a share. Last year it earned $714 million, or 36 cents, on revenue of $4.67 billion.

Bristol-Myers Squibb also lifted its 2007 earnings per share prediction to a range of $1.30 to $1.40, excluding special items, thanks to its first-quarter results and a lower expected tax rate. The previous guidance had been $1.20 to $1.30. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for $1.27.

However, the stock was down 59 cents, or 2%, to $29.11 on heavier-than-average trading. The stock fell as low as $28.38.

James Cornelius, who was named

permanent CEO Thursday, said the first quarter was aided by rising prescriptions for the anticoagulant Plavix, its best-selling drug. He was appointed interim CEO in September.

Plavix has been the center of attention ever since Bristol

bungled an effort to prevent generic versions from reaching the U.S. market until mid-2011. As a result, Canada's

Apotex

sold cheap copies for three weeks in August before being blocked by a court order.

Apotex distributed so much of the generic that Bristol took a

big hit in the second half of 2006. However, first-quarter 2007 results weren't as bad as many analysts had expected.

Plavix produced $938 million, down 5% from the year-ago quarter. Plavix made a "strong recovery," said Joseph Tooley, of A.G. Edwards, in a note to clients. He had expected sales of $703 million, but that wasn't enough to change his hold rating. His firm has had a non-investment banking relationship with Bristol.

Andrew Bonfield, Bristol's chief financial officer, told analysts that there will be "some residual impact" from the generics in the second quarter. He didn't offer an estimate, but he said the company has factored this in to its full-year forecast. That said, the guidance excludes the results of patent litigation involving Plavix or pending

U.S. government investigations of the matter.

Like its peers, Bristol has had to cope with generic competition for former big products. For example, sales of the cholesterol drug Pravachol sank 75% to $135 million vs. the year-ago quarter, while sales of the cancer drug Taxol fell 24% to $11 million.

But several major products recorded healthy gains. Sales of the schizophrenia drug Abilify rose 29% from the year-ago quarter to $366 million and sales of the Avapro/Avalide hypertension drugs gained 16% to $270 million. Reyataz, for treating HIV and AIDS, gained 27% to $263 million, and the Sustiva franchise for HIV rose 29% to $226 million.

Separately, Bristol said

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

would help it develop and sell apixaban, which is in late-stage clinical trials. The drug is being tested to prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs and to prevent stroke in patients with the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

Pfizer will pay $250 million upfront, and it will cover 60% of all development costs since Jan. 1. Bristol may receive up to $750 million more in milestone payments based on drug development and regulatory acceptance. They will equally share commercialization expenses, as well as profits and losses.

They also will collaborate on a Pfizer research program involving compounds, now in preclinical testing, for treating obesity and diabetes. Both will conduct late-stage clinical trials, development and commercialization activities. Bristol will pay $50 million to Pfizer upfront. Pfizer will assume 60% of development and commercialization expenses, along with 60% of profits or losses.