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Smithkline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. Report

posted what should be its last set of earnings before it merges with

Glaxo Wellcome


. The British pharmaceutical giant beat analysts' expectations due to strong sales of drugs Paxil/Seroxat, Augmentin and Avandia in the U.S., but also announced problems with one of its key drugs under development.

The company earned $875 million, or 54 cents a share, excluding exceptional items, up from $743 million, or 44 cents a share, in the previous year's third quarter. Three analysts polled by

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First Call/Thomson Financial

had estimated 50 cents a share.

Quarterly sales rose to $3.25 billion, compared with $3.06 billion last year. Total pharmaceutical sales were $2.32 billion, of which $1.42 billion came from the U.S. However, the company reported it has ordered further Phase III clinical trials on its Ariflo drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which will delay the eventual launch of the drug by up to a year.

Smithkline also said it is on track to meet its earnings forecast for 2000. Six analysts on average expect the company to earn $2.10 a share this year. The company expects its merger with British-counterpart Glaxo, which will create the world's largest drug maker by market share, to be completed by the end of the year.

Shares of Smithkline were off $2.63 to $65.50, about 4%, in trading just after the open on the

New York Stock Exchange