Idec Pharmaceuticals

(IDPH)

exceeded Wall Street estimates with first-quarter earnings that rose 41% over last year, bolstered by growing sales of its cancer drug, Rituxan.

The San Diego-based biotech firm reported fourth-quarter net income of $29.7 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with net income of $20.8 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts were looking for earnings of 16 cents per share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.

Total revenue for the quarter totaled $79.7 million, compared with $56.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

Idec co-markets Rituxan with

Genentech

(DNA)

, so the drug's fourth-quarter U.S. sales of $235 million were announced last week when Genentech reported its first-quarter financial results.

Genentech records Rituxan sales on its books and pays royalty fees to Idec that are based on those sales.

Last month, Idec started selling its next cancer drug, Zevalin.

Shares of Idec closed Thursday up $2.97, or 5%, to $63.97.