Updated from 2:31 a.m. EST

Elan Corp.

(ELN)

swung to a profit of $169.5 million, or 36 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $83.5 million, or 18 cents a share, as it saw "significant advances" in its biopharmaceutical and drug technology business units as sales of multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri soared.

Revenue in the quarter rose 19% to $269.8 million.

For 2008, the Irish biotechnology company reported a loss of $71 million, or 15 cents a share, on revenue of $1 billion, compared with a loss in 2007 of $405 million, or 86 cents a share, on revenue of $759.4 million.

In a statement Tuesday, Elan said a 51% increase in revenue in 2008 in its biopharmaceuticals business was driven by a strong performance from Tysabri, which more than offset reduced sales of Maxipime following the introduction of generic competition in 2007. Elan's recorded sales of Tysabri increased 140% to $557.1 million in 2008 from $231.7 million in 2007. Tysabri is co-marketed with

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

.

"Financial results improved, clinical programs advanced within our therapeutic areas, our science and discovery programs continued to progress, and we had growth in both of our business units -- biopharmaceuticals and Elan drug technologies," said Elan CEO Kelly Martin.

Elan said it expects 2009 revenue to grow by double-digit percentages.

A $236.6 million tax benefit in 2008 distorted Elan's year-on-year improvement. Analysts said a better guide to Elan's performance came in its operating losses, which narrowed 40% to $109.3 million.

The company's earnings statement shed no light on Elan's ongoing exploration of a possible sale of a 25% stake to a larger biotechnology company. On Jan. 13 Elan announced that it was considering a minority investment, strategic alliance, merger or sale.

"Elan is committed to completing its review of potential alternatives as promptly as practicable," the company said in a statement.

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