Analysts are looking forward to Eli Lilly's ( LLY) earnings presentation Wednesday with all the anticipation of expectant parents. They are waiting just as they have been waiting with increasing discomfort for months for news of a verdict in a patent challenge to Lilly's antipsychotic drug Zyprexa in the U.S. Even though many believe Lilly will win the case, the uncertainty appears to be the biggest obstacle between good reviews and rave reviews for the company's prospects. The difference between a win and a loss in the Zyprexa case is about six years of patent protection. "The biggest overhang for the stock remains the early generic threat to Zyprexa," said C.J. Sylvester, of Banc of America Securities, in a recent report to clients. "We expect a favorable court decision within the next several weeks ... Yes, there's risk. But this is the one Big Pharma stock you have to own long-term." If Lilly is to win a Zyprexa victory, Sylvester, who has a buy rating, predicts 2005 earnings per share of $3.06, compared to a Thomson First Call consensus of $3.10. With a Zyprexa defeat, the company's 2005 EPS could slide to $2.55 to $2.65, Sylvester says. There are a lot of Lilly watchers who might raise their stock rating if the company wins because they believe Lilly has some of the best prospects among Big Pharma companies. Until then, however, the hold ratings (13) outnumber the buy recommendations (11), according to Thomson First Call. Three analysts advocate selling the stock. For the fourth quarter of 2004, the consensus view is a profit of $802.6 million, or 74 cents a share, on sales of $3.58 billion. That compares to a profit of $747.2 million, or 69 cents a share, on revenue of $3.47 billion for the same period in 2003.