Cephalon

(CEPH)

posted a smaller third-quarter profit Wednesday, but drug sales increased, and the biotech firm raised sales and earnings guidance for the remainder of the year.

The West Chester, Pa.-based company reported third-quarter net income of $19.9 million, or 35 cents a share, compared with net income of $21.5 million, or 40 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

Cephalon said earnings dropped because third-quarter sales of the company's narcolepsy drug Provigil fell from the higher-than-expected level of the year-ago quarter. Analysts were expecting Cephalon to earn 28 cents per share in the third quarter, according to the consensus estimate gathered by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Third-quarter revenue rose 56% to $130.4 million, including product sales of $122.4 million.

Looking forward, Cephalon raised 2002 product sales guidance to $460 million, from a range of $430 million to $435 million. The company also raised 2002 earnings guidance to $1.20 per share, from $1.08-$1.10 per share. Analysts were looking for Cephalon to earn $1.11 per share this year.

Sales of Provigil totaled $50.2 million in the third quarter. Though the drug is officially approved for narcolepsy, most of its sales are derived off-label for people who battle daytime sleepiness related to a wide range of illnesses. Cephalon is conducting studies seeking Food and Drug Administration approval for expanded uses of the drug. Late last month, the company said a clinical study proved Provigil effective in helping graveyard shift workers stay alert, without serious side effects.

Cephalon said Wednesday that it expects 2002 Provigil sales of $200 million to $202 million.

Third-quarter sales of the company's remaining two drugs, Actiq and Gabitril, were $35 million and $13.5 million, respectively.

For the first time, Cephalon also gave guidance for 2003. It's forecasting earnings of $1.50 per share on total product sales in the range of $650 million to $660 million, including Provigil sales of $300-$315 million.

Cephalon shares were up 2% to $51.35 in afterhours trading, on release of third-quarter results. Shares closed the regular trading session down 1.8% to $50.25.