Updated from 9:37 a.m. EDT

Eli Lilly ( LLY) Monday reported first-quarter earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street estimates by a healthy margin and offered in-line forward guidance.

Excluding one-time charges, Lilly earned $762.7 million, or 70 cents a share, for the three months ended March 31. The EPS consensus of analysts polled by Thomson First Call was 66 cents. Earnings and EPS gained 15% over the same period last year.

Revenue advanced 17% to $3.38 billion. The Wall Street consensus was $3.23 billion.

When one-time charges are included, Lilly earned $400.4 million, a decline of 2% from the same period last year. Earnings per share were 37 cents, down 1 cent from the first quarter of 2003. The major charge in the first quarter was for $362.3 million related to the acquisition of Applied Molecular Evolution.

Indianapolis-based Lilly also confirmed its full-year 2004 forecast of $2.80 to $2.85 a share and offered guidance for the second quarter of 67 cents to 69 cents a share. The Wall Street consensus estimates are 68 cents and $2.83 a share, respectively. Lilly said it continues to expect "low double-digit" sales growth for the full year. The full-year guidance excludes the charge for the Applied Molecular Evolution purchase.

"First-quarter 2004 trounces skeptics," said the headline of a Monday research note from David R. Risinger, of Merrill Lynch, who maintained his buy recommendation on the stock. "Product revenue was in-line or above forecast for virtually all of the company's products," Risinger said. (He doesn't own shares; his firm is a market maker for Lilly's stock and has had an investment banking relationship in the last 12 months.)

Lilly was paced by its Zyprexa-Symbyax franchise, whose sales gained 18% to $1.13 billion during the first quarter. Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic, is the company's best-selling drug. Symbyax is a combination of Zyprexa and the Lilly antidepressant Prozac for the treatment of bipolar depression.

If you liked this article you might like

Are Fund Managers Better Than Their Funds?

Are Fund Managers Better Than Their Funds?

Can Regional Brokers Keep Outperforming?

Can Regional Brokers Keep Outperforming?

Wyeth Deal's Big, but Pfizer Still Needs a Blockbuster

Wyeth Deal's Big, but Pfizer Still Needs a Blockbuster

Cosmetic Surgery Stocks Keep Stiff Upper Lip

Cosmetic Surgery Stocks Keep Stiff Upper Lip

For Abbott, Diversity Remains Paramount

For Abbott, Diversity Remains Paramount