said late Wednesday that fourth-quarter earnings rose on strong sales of its cancer drug, Rituxan.

The biotech firm, based in South San Francisco, Calif., said fourth-quarter net income rose 27% to $106.3 million, or 20 cents per share, compared with the year-ago quarter.

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Wall Street analysts were looking for earnings of 20 cents per share, according to consensus figures compiled by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 24% year over year to $600.2 million, driven largely by sales of Rituxan, used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Rituxan sales for the fourth quarter totaled $246.1 million. Analysts were expecting Rituxan sales of around $230 million.

Sales of Herceptin, the company's breast cancer drug, totaled $102.5 million in the fourth quarter. That's way above analyst expectations of around $85 million, but Genentech said the company moved to a different distribution process for Herceptin, which resulted in higher-than-normal sales due to inventory stocking.

For the full year 2001, Genentech said earnings per share increased 25% to 76 cents per share, compared with 2000 -- 1 cent per share above consensus Wall Street estimates. Net income in 2001 rose 24% to $404.5 million, on total revenues of $2.2 billion.

Shares of Genentech closed Wednesday down 34 cents to $50.78 per share.