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Genentech Posts Profit Rise

Overall, the biotech company beats Wall Street estimates even as sales of key drugs fall short of estimates.

Updated from 5:47 p.m. EST

Genentech

(DNA)

met, and by some measures, beat earnings expectations but fell shy of quarterly sales estimates for lead drugs Rituxan and Avastin.

Shares, which closed the regular session down 1.2% at $70.64, fell back an additional $1.51, or 2.1%, to $69.13 in recent post-market trading after the biotech company divulged its quarterly and year-end results.

For the year, Genentech reported adjusted revenue of $11.7 billion, a 26% increase over the prior year, and right in line with analysts' expectations.

The South San Francisco-based company reported adjusted earnings of $3.1 billion, or $2.94 a share, compared to $2.3 billion, or $2.23 a share in 2006. The results were in line with the consensus of $3.1 billion and a bit above an expected $2.92 a share.

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For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, the company reported adjusted earnings of $737 million, or 69 cents a share, on revenue of $2.96 billion. It edged past Street expectations of $720 million, or 68 cents a share, on revenue of $2.9 billion.

"On balance, the quarter appears neutral, where Avastin sales modestly missed expectations but fundamentals are intact given the several clinical catalysts expected to read out in 2008 and 1H09," noted JP Morgan analyst Geoffrey Meacham in a note to investors.

Fourth-quarter sales included $596 million for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment Rituxan, falling short of the analysts' expectations of $603 million, and $603 million for cancer drug Avastin, vs. the $616 million consensus.

In December a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted against approving the company's Avastin for metastatic breast cancer, on the basis that while the drug did increase progression-free survival, it didn't increase overall survival. The agency is set to make a decision on the drug this spring, and while it usually does follow the recommendations of the advisory panels, it isn't bound to do so.

Upcoming data from two trials -- the Avado trial in the first half of the year and the Ribbon-1 trial in the second half of the year -- could help Avastin's case in the breast cancer indication. Longer-term data in colorectal, ovarian and breast cancer are due out in 2009.

The company also reported $327 million for Herceptin, shy of the $332 million consensus, $112 million for Tarceva, vs. the $111 million consensus, and $197 million for Lucentis, pushing past the $169 million consensus.

For the year, the company reported the following sales (vs. consensus) $2.28 billion for Rituxan (vs. $2.29 billion), $1.28 billion for Herceptin (vs. $1.29 billion), $2.29 billion for Avastin (vs. $2.3 billion), $417 million for Tarceva (vs. $416 million), and $815 million from Lucentis (vs. $817 million).

Looking ahead, Genentech sees 2008 adjusted earnings between $3.30 and $3.45, noting in its conference call that it would need the approval of Avastin in metastatic breast cancer in order to hit the high end of that range but that the low end of that range does accommodate a lack of approval as well. The Street consensus of $3.37 a share falls right within the guidance range.