Forest Labs Sales Advance - TheStreet

Forest Labs Sales Advance

The company also guides in line.
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Forest Laboratories

(FRX)

reported fourth-quarter results that surpassed Wall Street estimates, thanks to solid results for its Lexapro antidepressant and Namenda treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

The New York-based drugmaker also predicted that earnings for the 2008 fiscal year would be $3.05 to $3.15 a share, excluding items, which is in line with the Thomson First Call forecast of $3.11.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31, Forest earned 74 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $885.4 million. The average analyst forecast had been for earnings of 71 cents and sales of $865 million.

When the results were calculated using generally accepted accounting principles, Forest recorded a big charge related to the acquisition of Cerexa, a maker of antibiotics, earlier this year. The charge of $476 million was worth $1.49 a share.

Including items, Forest lost $237.9 million, or 75 cents a share, for the fourth quarter. For the same period last year, Forest earned $91.9 million, or 28 cents a share, on revenue of $756.3 million.

Sales of Lexapro rose 14% year over year to $530.4 million, and company executives said sales have grown despite increased competition from generic versions of other antidepressants. Owing primarily to a price increase, Forest expects Lexapro sales to grow 9% to 10% in the current fiscal year from $2.1 billion in the just-completed fiscal year.

Fourth-quarter sales of Namenda were $179.7 million, up 24% from the year-ago quarter. Forest predicts that Namenda's sales for the current fiscal year should grow 14% to 16% over the recent year's total of $660.3 million.

Lawrence Olanoff, the president and chief operating officer, told analysts that he expects the Food and Drug Administration to act by year-end on nebivolol, a blood-pressure drug licensed from

Mylan Laboratories

(MYL) - Get Report

in early 2006.

The drug received conditional approval from the FDA in 2005, but the agency asked for more information. Olanoff said Mylan will file answers to the FDA's questions by the end of the month, and he said the agency will take six months to review the application.

Olanoff added that Forest will wait on the FDA's verdict before deciding on filing a nebivolol application for congestive heart failure

Forest's biggest task is developing, licensing or acquiring products whose sales will offset the patent expirations of Lexapro and Namenda early in the next decade. Forest said it will be "investing heavily" during the fiscal year in products in late-stage clinical trials.

Experimental compounds include an antibiotic for skin infections and pneumonia, as well as treatments for chronic lung disease, stroke, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer's.

In late morning trading, Forest's stock was up 12 cents to $54.93.