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King's Better Than Expected

Earnings and revenue top estimates.

Shares of

King Pharmaceuticals


advanced Wednesday after the Bristol, Tenn., drugmaker said fourth-quarter results beat Wall Street estimates.

Excluding one-time items, King earned 41 cents a share on revenue of $513 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. The consensus prediction was a profit of 37 cents a share and revenue of $481 million, according to Thomson First Call.

Counting items, King earned $37 million, or 15 cents a share, for the fourth quarter. King lost $95 million, or 39 cents a share, on revenue of $423 million for the same period in 2005.

"Our 2006 accomplishments provide us with a solid foundation for the coming year," said Joseph Squicciarino, the chief financial officer. However, the company didn't provide sales or profit guidance for this year.

Recently, King's stock was up 82 cents, or 4.6%, to $18.73.

King's results exclude the impact of the painkiller Avinza, a once-a-day morphine treatment, whose U.S. and Canadian marketing rights were acquired Monday from

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. King paid $295 million.

King says Avinza will add to its pain-management franchise, which includes Skelaxin, for muscle pain, and Remoxy, an experimental, long-acting version of oxycodone for chronic pain.

Remoxy is in the third and final stage of clinical testing before being submitted for regulatory review. King is developing the drug with

Pain Therapeutics


. King also is working on a nerve pain drug, and it expects to begin phase II clinical trials in the first half of the year.

Among major products, King was again led by the blood pressure drug Altace, whose full-year sales of $653 million beat 2005's sales by 18%. The company plans to begin selling a new formulation during the fourth quarter of 2007 or the first quarter of 2008. Skelaxin contributed $415 million last year, up from $345 million in 2005.