Schering-Plough Pain to Continue in Fourth Quarter

The company says net income will be below the third quarter's level.
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said in a government filing that fourth-quarter earnings will trail the third quarter's 6 cents a share because of competition for its hepatitis drug, inventory reduction and marketing investments.

In a 10Q filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

, the company also cited the discontinuation of a European sales agreement with


(AZN) - Get Report

that contributed about $52 million to third-quarter earnings.

The earnings estimate, which comes a week after the company fired its chief financial officer, would leave fourth-quarter net income below the current analyst consensus forecast of 6 cents a share, as compiled by Thomson First Call.

Schering-Plough actually lost $265 million, or 18 cents a share, in the 2003 third quarter because of a huge litigation reserve to cover an investigation into its sales and clinical trial practices. The fourth-quarter comparison is to third-quarter earnings before that reserve.

The shares closed Friday at $15.05 and weren't doing any appreciable volume in the Monday premarket.