Forest Laboratories ( FRX) said Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings handily beat Wall Street estimates that already had been revised upward earlier this month.

The company said it earned $260.8 million, or 70 cents a share, on revenue of $832.3 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. The consensus of analysts polled by Thomson First Call was predicting earnings of $240.2 million, or 68 cents a share, on revenue of $770.6 million.

The analysts' EPS predictions were raised in early January after the company said third-quarter results would beat previous Wall Street consensus estimates by 15%. At the time, the average Thomson First Call estimate was 59 cents a share.

For the same period last year, Forest earned $226.1 million, or 60 cents a share, on revenue of $707.2 million.

In addition, Forest predicted that full-year EPS would be approximately $2.60, which would put it in line with the Thomson First Call consensus. Guidance for the next fiscal year will be offered in mid-April.

As usual, the company said its quarterly sales performance was paced by its antidepressant medications -- Lexapro, with sales of $427.1 million, and Celexa, with sales of $129.8 million.

Total antidepressant sales for the quarter dropped 5% from the same period last year as generic competition began eroding Celexa's sales. Forest also sold $3.7 million worth of its own generic brand of Celexa during the quarter.

Howard Solomon, the company's chairman and CEO, said generic competitors for Celexa "have not had any meaningful negative impact" on Lexapro, which still has patent protection. "Nor do we expect any meaningful impact given physicians' experience with Lexapro," he said.

Sales growth for Lexapro and other products, such as Namenda for Alzheimer's disease, "will serve to overcome the loss of Celexa revenues during the coming quarters," he said.

Solomon added that Forest expects to start marketing Combunox in March, which was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating acute moderate to severe pain.

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