Updated from 8:11 a.m. EST

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday, boosted by strong sales of several key drugs and the sale of the company's stake in

ImClone Systems

.

The New York-based drugmaker forecast 2009 adjusted earnings in the range of $1.85 to $2 a share, which brackets current consensus estimate of $1.96 a share. Bristol said revenue growth in 2009 would be in the low-single digits, impacted somewhat by foreign exchange headwinds.

Bristol reported net income from continuing operations for the fourth quarter totaled $1.2 billion, or 61 cents a share, reversing a loss of $192 million, or 10 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Fourth-quarter profits were boosted by a $582 million after-tax gain, or 29 cents a share, from the sale of Bristol's stake in the biotech firm ImClone Systems to

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

.

On an adjusted basis, Bristol's fourth-quarter earnings rose 53% to 46 cents a share, compared to 30 cents a share one year ago. Results beat Wall Street's consensus expectations for adjusted earnings of 41 cents a share.

Revenue in the quarter totaled $5.25 billion, up 4% over the year-ago time period. Pharmaceutical sales rose 4% to $4.5 billion, while nutritional sales increased 6% to $707 million.

Sales of Plavix, Bristol's top-selling blood thinning drug, rose 7% to $1.47 billion in the quarter, while sales of the company's HIV drug Sustiva totaled $300 million, a 15% increase year over year.

Bristol said sales of the colon cancer drug Erbitux fell 2% to $182 million. Bristol shares Erbitux revenue with Eli Lilly after that drug maker purchased ImClone Systems last year. The bipolar drug Abilify recorded sales of $606 million in the quarter, up 31%.

On Friday, Bristol and Lilly said they withdrew and will resubmit an FDA approval application for Erbitux as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. The delay was caused by the need to gather data demonstrating the equivalence of Erbitux made in the U.S. with that of Erbitux sold in Europe by German drug maker Merck KGaA.

Bristol shares, which closed Monday at $22.25, were recently up 5% to $23.36.

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