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reported third-quarter earnings in line with analysts' expectations, led by a 23% increase in pharmaceutical sales.

On an adjusted basis, the Swedish drug maker earned $427 million, or 33 cents a share, up from $265 million, or 21 cents a share, last year. Results excluded items related to the April acquisition of subsidiary


. Sixteen analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

called for third-quarter EPS of 33 cents a share.

Revenue for the quarter jumped 15% to $4.3 billion from $3.7 billion in the year-ago period. Sales of its leading arthritis medicine Celebrex reached $687 million, while sales of its glaucoma treatment drug, Xalatan, grew 36% to $185 million.

The company also revised its earnings outlook in response to new accounting guidance for revenue recognition and to take into account its decision to retain exclusive marketing rights to its recently-filed COX-2 compound, Parecoxib. It now expects full-year earnings per share to grow about 30% in 2000, and 2001 earnings per share to grow between 20% to 25%, excluding the impact of charges. Analysts on average expect the company to earn $1.55 a share in 2000 and $1.91 in 2001.