Lilly Names New CEO, Updates Outlook

Sidney Taurel will pass the torch April 1 to John Lechleiter. Company also tempers guidance.
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Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

named a new CEO, upped its quarterly dividend and reined in 2008 guidance to reflect a new licensing agreement, all separately, early this week.

The company said Tuesday that CEO Sidney Taurel will retire effective March 31, remaining chairman of the board until the end of 2008. Taurel, who has served as CEO since 1998, will be replaced by John Lechleiter, current president and chief operating officer.

Lechleiter joined Lilly in 1979 as a senior organic chemist and moved through the ranks on the research and development side of the company, eventually being named executive vice president of pharmaceutical operations in 2004.

Separately, the company announced after Monday's close a 10.6% increase to its quarterly dividend. The dividend for the first quarter of 2008 will be 47 cents a share, representing an increase in the annual dividend rate to $1.88 a share.

The company also announced a licensing and development agreement with BioMS, in which it will receive worldwide rights to BioMS Medical's lead phase III multiple sclerosis drug, MBP8298.

Per the deal, Lilly will pay BioMS Medical $87 million upfront, milestone payments of up to $410 million and royalties on sales. Lilly predicts a charge of 5 cents a share to earnings for acquired, in-process research and development, and now expects earnings in the range of $3.80 to $3.95 a share for 2008, compared to a prior forecast of between $3.85 and $4 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are expecting $3.87.

Lilly's shares were up 24 cents, or 0.5%, at $53.42 in recent trading Tuesday.