Updated from 9:41 a.m. EDT
Two health care companies reported earnings on Tuesday that surpassed Wall Street's expectations, due to strong sales of top drugs.
Johnson & Johnson
beat estimates by 3 cents and 2 cents respectively.
Pfizer benefited from the strength of three blockbuster drugs it co-markets: Lipitor, the anti-cholesterol drug; Celebrex, the arthritis treatment; and Alzheimer's treatment Aricept.
Other key products contributed to the healthy performance of the pharmaceutical company, which
American Home Products
earlier this year for a merger with
. Those products include anti-impotence treatment Viagra and anti-hypertensive medicine Norvasc.
For the first quarter, net income of the New York-based company rose 33% to $1.09 billion, or 28 cents a diluted share, from $815 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. The consensus estimate of analysts polled by
First Call/Thomson Financial
was 25 cents.
Those figures exclude a $135 million pre-tax gain from the sale of research-related equity investments. Including the gain, net income was $1.18 billion, or 31 cents a diluted share.
Worldwide revenue rose 10%, to $4.32 billion from $3.93 billion a year ago but came in slightly below most forecasts because of shortfalls in sales of Zoloft, Cardura and Zyrtec. Antidepressant Zoloft, which has grabbed market share of Eli Lilly's Prozac and is now No. 1 in new prescriptions, posted a 1% decrease in U.S. sales, to $428 million from $434 million. Nevertheless, it's experiencing strong underlying demand as prescriptions grew by 8% in the quarter. Sales of high blood pressure treatment Cardura in the U.S. were down 5%, to $90 million from $95 million.
Sales of antibiotic Zithromax were also disappointing, dropping 5% in the U.S. to $90 million from $95 million. Prescriptions in the quarter were also down 13% from the year before, due mostly to an earlier end than usual to the flu season.
On the positive side, Lipitor's 42% increase in worldwide sales to $54 million inspires confidence that the integration of Warner-Lambert, which co-markets the drug, into Pfizer has not distracted the sales force of either company. Prescriptions were also up 34.6% in the quarter. Meanwhile, sales of Aricept, co-marketed with Japan's
, increased 38% to $26 million, and Celebrex, co-marketed with
, took in $3 million in sales. New prescriptions for Celebrex were flat, as expected for a year-old arthritis brand.
Norvasc sales were up 13%, to $792 million, with analysts projecting that growth should continue throughout the year, despite the launch this summer of a competitor, Vanlev, from
. After all, Norvasc is an established brand and the majority of patients on the drug have been on it for some time; it is unlikely that physicians will switch those patients to a new medication.
Viagra sales shot up 53% in the U.S. to $227 million and continued to benefit from strong advertising. Anti-allergy drug Zyrtec rose 21% in the U.S., to $151 million, with prescriptions up 28% already because the allergy season has started earlier than usual.
Pfizer finished Tuesday up 1 9/16, or 4.1%, at 39 9/16.
Johnson & Johnson
, which makes Band-Aids and Neutrogena skin care products, came in ahead of expectations on the back of strong sales of anemia treatment Procrit and antipsychotic medication Risperdal.
For the first quarter, net earnings rose 15% to $1.31 billion, or 93 cents a diluted share, from $1.14 billion, or 80 cents a share, a year earlier. That exceeded the 91-cent consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial.
Worldwide revenue rose 9% to $7.32 billion from $6.74 billion a year ago, with domestic sales up 12% to $4.2 billion and international sales up 4% to $3.12 billion. The company, based in New Brunswick, N.J., said the impact of the stronger dollar decreased sales by 2.5%.
Sales were lifted by the pharmaceutical division, which posted 18% growth, to $3.04 billion from $2.58 billion. Healthy sales of Procrit, Risperdal, painkiller Duragesic, anti-infective drug Levaquin, analgesic Ultram, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease treatment Remicade and the company's line of oral contraceptives were offset by a decline in sales of Propulsid.
Last month, Johnson & Johnson said it will
stop marketing Propulsid, a heartburn medication, in the U.S. and distribute it only to patients who have not been helped by other treatments. The
Food and Drug Administration
approved Propulsid in 1993, but the agency began receiving reports of patients dying by the next year. There have been reports of 80 deaths related to the medication.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose 3 7/8, or 5%, to 81 3/8 in Tuesday afternoon trading. (Johnson & Johnson closed Tuesday up 4, or 5.2%, at 81 1/2.)