Wyeth Beats Profit Targets

The company says it's too early in the year to change its 2006 forecast.
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Updated from 7:52 a.m. EDT

Wyeth

(WYE)

on Friday issued a first-quarter earnings report that stormed past Wall Street's expectations, but the company said it wasn't changing its full-year financial guidance.

"It's only April," Kenneth Martin, the chief financial officer, observed Friday while on a telephone conference call with analysts. Martin emphasized that it was too early to talk about adjusting any predictions for all of 2006.

Wyeth expects full-year earnings of $2.97 to $3.07 a share, excluding restructuring charges, but including stock-option expenses. The Thomson First Call consensus estimate is $3.04.

For the first quarter, Wyeth's profit before charges was 84 cents a share vs. the average analyst projection of 73 cents. First-quarter revenue of $4.84 billion was in line with the consensus estimate of $4.88 billion and rose 6% from the same period last year.

"I'm not suggesting this is what you'll see every quarter," said Martin. Cost-cutting and productivity improvements, such as changes in Wyeth's sales-force operations, played key roles in the improved performance.

When calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles, Wyeth earned $1.12 billion, or 82 cents a share, for the three months ended March 31. For the same period a year ago, Wyeth earned $1.08 billion, or 80 cents a share, on revenue of $4.58 billion.

By midmorning, Wyeth's stock was up $1.68, or 3.6%, to $48.45.

Among its biggest products, Wyeth reported that the antidepressants Effexor and Effexor XR recorded sales of $945 million, up 9% from a year earlier. Sales of Prevnar, the pneumococcal-disease vaccine, rose 10% to $432 million, and revenue from Enbrel, for several inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, rose 42% to $335 million.

Wyeth sells Enbrel outside the U.S. and Canada.

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

markets the drug in those two markets, where first-quarter sales rose 11% to $658 million.

Protonix, for severe heartburn, reported $482 million in first-quarter sales, up 18% compared with the same period last year. Wyeth attributed the increase partially to changes in inventory levels among wholesalers. Sales of the Premarin family of products for treating menopause symptoms rose 26% to $266 million. However, that comparison was affected by wholesalers reducing their inventories during the same period last year.

The company said that within the next 12 months it expects to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration for new treatments for osteoporosis, menopause symptoms, schizophrenia, kidney cancer and the side effects caused by strong painkillers that have been prescribed for people with advanced illnesses.