Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

beat Wall Street's first-quarter earnings target Wednesday but fell short on revenue, as big cholesterol drug Lipitor got off to a slow start.

The company reaffirmed 2006 guidance and said it would buy back $1 billion of its stock in the second quarter, matching its first-quarter share-repurchase outlay. Pfizer said it would stick to its aggressive 2006 sales targets for leading drugs like Lipitor, Celebrex, Lyrica and Geodon, though all appeared to be a bit behind the expected pace, going by first-quarter numbers.

"We are reporting solid operating performance for the first quarter of 2006, with an increasing contribution from our new products, significant cost savings from our restructuring initiatives, and additional action to build shareholder value," said CEO Hank McKinnell. "We will continue to manage the loss of exclusivity on some of our major products with an aggressive strategy that responds to our competitive challenges and positions Pfizer for renewed growth. We are reconfirming our 2006 full-year financial guidance for revenues and adjusted diluted EPS, as well as our targets for 2007 and 2008."

For the quarter ended March 31, Pfizer made $4.11 billion, or 56 cents a share, up from the year-ago $301 million, or 4 cents a share. On a so-called adjusted basis, excluding certain items, latest-quarter earnings rose to 61 cents a share from 54 cents a year earlier, breezing past the 53-cent Thomson Financial analyst consensus estimate.

But revenue fell 3% from a year ago to $12.66 billion, missing the $12.98 billion Wall Street target. Pfizer said nerve pain treatment Lyrica and schizophrenia drug Geodon are both posting strong results, but it was less effusive about painkiller Celebrex and Lipitor, whose full-year revenue goal Pfizer described as an "aggressive target given a challenging environment and a slower-than-hoped-for start to the year."

Lipitor sales rose 3% in the first quarter on a constant-dollar basis to $3.11 billion, and rose 1% on a reported basis. U.S. sales of the drug rose 3% to $1.97 billion. The company said it continues to expect 2006 Lipitor sales of $13 billion.

Celebrex sales rose 19% to $491 million; Pfizer said it continues to target $2 billion in Celebrex sales for 2006. International sales dropped 32% from a year ago to $100 million.

Geodon sales rose 32% from a year earlier to $182 million, and the company targets full-year revenue of $800 million. Lyrica first-quarter revenue was $192 million, and the company expects to sell $900 million worth this year.

The company says it is on track to post adjusted diluted EPS of $2 for 2006, in line with the Thomson Financial estimate, and expects to save $2 billion in so-called cost synergies through its cutback plan. Pfizer said it has seen a "high degree of initial interest" in its for-sale consumer health business.