Updated from 8:35 a.m. EDT
said its second-quarter results exceeded Wall Street's expectations, thanks to strong sales of major products as well as reduced selling and administrative expenses.
"If the current strong business trends continue, full-year earnings are more likely to approach or even exceed" the fiscal-year earnings-per-share prediction of $2.80 to $2.90, Ken Martin, the chief financial officer, said Wednesday in a statement. On June 28, Wyeth raised its full-year EPS prediction from a range of $2.70 to $2.80. The latest consensus estimate from analysts is $2.86 a share.
The announcement gave a boost to Wyeth's stock, which rose 70 cents, or 1.6%, to $45.70 by late morning.
For the three months ended June 30, Wyeth earned $976.6 million, or 72 cents a share, on revenue of $4.71 billion. The consensus prediction of analysts polled by Thomson First Call had been a profit of $943 million, or 70 cents a share, on revenue of $4.6 billion.
For the same period last year, Wyeth earned $827.3 million, or 61 cents a share, on revenue of $4.22 billion.
"This performance builds on the momentum generated by our strong first quarter and positions the company for future growth," said Robert Essner, the chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement.
Cost-cutting will be affected by restructuring Wyeth's sales force that caters to primary care physicians, said Bernard Poussot, president of the company's pharmaceuticals division. In a telephone conference with analysts, and later in an interview with
, Poussot said Wyeth is looking for ways to respect doctors' time, to become more productive in making sales calls and to save money.
Although sales-force cuts have been subject to speculation, Poussot said Wyeth will make a decision by late 2005 or early 2006 on how to restructure the 2,900-member primary care sales force in the U.S. "We have a model in mind," but there is no formal plan yet, he said.
Poussot said the restructuring will be enacted after Wyeth assesses three pilot projects, which will soon start in three territories that he declined to identify. These projects will feature a reduction in the number of full-time sales representatives and the use of part-timers. "We have done this with our consumer division for several years," he said.
CFO Martin said he couldn't predict how much the company would save. The 2,000-member sales force dealing with specialists will be unaffected.
Poussot said Wyeth began thinking about the sales-force restructuring earlier this year, after talking to customers and physicians. Doctors complained that they "see too many faces," Poussot said.
Second-quarter revenue was paced by the antidepressant Effexor, which recorded sales of $889 million, up 7% from the same period last year. However, sales of Effexor and similar antidepressants are slowing, Wyeth says, because the "category is maturing" and because of "negative publicity" along with "increased concern" about the use of these products in children and adolescents.
In October, the Food and Drug Administration told Wyeth and other antidepressant makers to place "black box" warnings on the drug labels, alerting doctors about prescribing these drugs to children and adolescents. Black box warnings are the FDA's strongest warning. The agency says the drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking in children and adolescents who have "major depressive disorders and other psychiatric disorders."
Although Effexor and most other antidepressants aren't approved by the FDA for treating children, federal law allows off-label prescriptions. That means that once the FDA approves a drug for a specific disease, doctors may prescribe the medication for any condition or any patient.
In addition, the FDA recently issued a public health advisory noting that "several recent scientific publications" suggest there may be an increased risk of suicidal behavior among adults who take antidepressants. The FDA says it is reviewing all data, and this could take a year or longer.
The FDA says that adults taking these drugs should be watched closely for suicidal thinking or behavior, adding that patients whose symptoms worsen should be evaluated by their doctor. These recommendations are consistent with existing drug label warnings, the FDA says.
Sales of the multipurpose drug Enbrel were strong in North America, where the drug is marketed by
, as well as in other markets where Wyeth is in charge. Second-quarter North American sales rose 45% to $639 million, and foreign market sales rose 72% to $272 million. Enbrel is approved for several inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Protonix, for severe heartburn, reported a 17% revenue gain to $454 million in the second quarter, while Prevnar, a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease in infants and young children, posted a 48% gain to $323 million. Sales of the Premarin family of drugs for symptoms associated with menopause gained 17% to $250 million.