Schering-Plough

(SGP)

reported flat second-quarter profits on Thursday, as slightly higher drug sales were offset by higher manufacturing costs and royalty payments.

The Kenilworth, N.J.-based drugmaker said earnings totaled $633 million, or 43 cents a share, in line with analyst estimates, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. This compares with earnings of $634 million, or 43 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Sales in the quarter rose 8% from the second quarter last year, to $2.8 billion. Among the biggest product gainers: the Intron franchise of hepatitis C drugs, with sales of $659 million, more than double the sales from the comparable period last year.

Sales of Claritin, however, fell 14% to $792 million, as the allergy drug nears generic competition in December. Schering-Plough is trying to get patients to switch to its new allergy drug Clarinex, which posted second-quarter sales of $173 million.

Schering-Plough said it expects third-quarter earnings to be significantly lower than in the comparable period of 2001 because wholesalers will be eliminating Claritin inventory. However, it said fourth-quarter earnings will be higher on growth from other drug products. In total, it expects full-year earnings to grow in the mid-single digits, compared with 2001, excluding the company's fourth-quarter 2001 payment to settle its manufacturing consent decree with U.S. drug regulators.

Analysts are looking for Schering-Plough to earn $1.66 per share in 2002, compared with $1.58 per share in 2001.

Shares of Schering-Plough were trading at $22.69 midday Thursday.