Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) announced Monday that it was restating earnings again. But this time, the revision for 2003 actually improved the company's financial results while downward adjustments for several other years didn't seem to bother Wall Street very much. The restatement "was not a surprise, as the company had alluded to it during the fourth-quarter earnings call" in late January, said UBS drug analyst C.J. Sylvester in a research note published Monday. Sylvester, who doesn't own shares, maintained a neutral rating. (UBS has had an investment banking relationship with the company within the last three years.) "We do not expect today's announcement to have a large impact on our forward estimates," added James Kelly, of Goldman Sachs, in a Monday report to clients. Kelly, who has an underperform rating on the stock, said he would review his estimates for possible revision after monthly prescription data is published Wednesday. Kelly noted that Bristol-Myers Squibb did not alter its 2004 earnings guidance of $1.50 to $1.55 per share. (He doesn't own shares; his firm has had an investment banking relationship with the company in the last 12 months.) Shares of the New York-based drugmaker dropped 48 cents, or 1.9%, to $25.35 in early afternoon trading. The company said it was restating fourth-quarter and full-year results for 2003 due to accounting errors. When the company issued its financial report for 2003 on Jan. 29, it noted that it had recorded "various charges and adjustments" throughout the year relating to accounting errors in prior years. Bristol-Myers added on Monday that although it believes that many of the errors could be considered "not material" for financial reporting purposes, it decided to restate the results "based on their cumulative impact." Thus, the company changed its fourth-quarter sales to $5.67 billion, up from the originally reported $5.58 billion. And it adjusted full-year revenue to $20.89 billion from $20.67 billion.
Fourth-quarter earnings were restated to $506 million, or 26 cents a share, vs. the previously reported $429 million, or 22 cents a share. Full-year earnings were restated to $3.11 billion, or $1.59 a share, up from $2.95 billion, or $1.51 a share. In early 2003, Bristol-Myers announced a significant restating of earnings between 1999 and 2002. Monday's announcement caused an adjustment in that previous restatement -- a gain of 3 cents per share for 2002; a decrease of 9 cents for 2001; a cut of 7 cents for 2000; and a gain of 12 cents for 1999.