Biogen Idec ( BIIB) swung to a first-quarter loss, weighed down by charges related to the merger that created the company in June 2003. Before the charge and other nonoperating items, the biotech company posted earnings that beat analysts' forecasts.

Biogen Idec lost $41.2 million, or 12 cents a share, in the latest quarter, including $275 million of merger-related charges, compared with earnings of $41.2 million, or 24 cents a share, last year. The uneven correspondence of earnings and per-share earnings reflects additional shares created by the merger. Revenue was $541.7 million in the latest quarter compared with $117.6 million last year.

Excluding the merger charges and other nonoperating items, Biogen earned $143 million, or 40 cents a share, in the most recent quarter. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 34 cents a share on that basis. The stock was recently up $3.24, or 5.7%, to $60.25 on the Instinet premarket session.

Among its major drugs, sales of multiple sclerosis treatment Avonex rose 29% from a year ago to $355 million in the latest quarter. Sales of psoriasis treatment Amevive totaled $13 million. The company also collected $134 million from its joint marketing pact with Genentech ( DNA) for lymphoma-treatment Rituxan, up from $111 million last year.

"With three products in phase III development -- Antegren in MS and Crohn's disease, BG-12 for psoriasis in Europe and Rituxan in rheumatoid arthritis -- we have a robust pipeline that reaffirms our commitment to our corporate goal of averaging 15% revenue growth and 20% EPS growth through 2007," the company said in a statement.