reported a 15% decline in fourth-quarter sales Tuesday, as the launch of generic competition to its Celexa antidepressant ate into results. The company also issued mixed guidance for the current fiscal year, including a weaker-than-expected profit forecast.
The New York drug company earned $52.8 million, or 15 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31, 2005, compared with earnings of $145.5 million, or 38 cents a share, last year. The latest quarter included a big charge to cover the repatriation of overseas earnings, before which Forest earned 40 cents a share.
Fourth-quarter net revenue were $653.2 million compared with $733.1 million a year ago, reflecting the evaporation of Celexa, which did $245.7 million in sales a year ago and $6.2 million this year. Some of the decline was offset by sales of Lexapro, which totaled $399.4 million in the most recent quarter compared with $351.8 million a year ago.
Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 40 cents a share on sales of $614 million in the latest quarter.
For the current first quarter, Forest predicts per-share earnings that are above the 40 cents a share it earned in the previous quarter, followed by "sequential growth" in the remaining quarters of 2006.
Analysts were forecasting earnings of 54 cents a share in the first quarter, 59 cents a share in the second quarter, 63 cents a share in the third quarter and 65 cents a share in the fourth quarter.
The company sees earnings in the year ending March 31, 2006, of $2.30 a share. Analysts were forecasting $2.44 a share. But the company expects net revenue in the year ending March 31, 2006, to be up slightly from the $3.16 billion it put up in 2005. Analysts were expecting $2.91 billion.
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