Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) investors have only to wait until Thursday for the next shoe to drop. The last one
fell in October when the drugmaker said a generic equivalent of Plavix cut the anticoagulant's third-quarter sales to $630 million, down 36% from the year-ago quarter. Plavix is the company's biggest source of revenue. Bristol-Myers Squibb had already warned that a generic version of Plavix would harm earnings for 2006 , even though a Canadian company sold it for only three weeks in August. The New York company has said generic Plavix might affect 2007's first quarter because it doesn't know how much of the copycat drug was shipped. The generic's sales were halted by a judge who issued an injunction. A clearer picture will emerge Thursday as Bristol-Myers issues fourth-quarter and fiscal 2006 results as well as guidance for 2007. Its most recent 2006 earnings prediction is $1.02 to $1.07 a share, excluding one-time items. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call forecast $1.05 for the year and 16 cents for the fourth quarter. The company's most recent prediction is better than the 95-cent figure it issued in September as the Plavix fiasco unfolded, but the guidance is lower than the range of $1.15 to $1.25 a share offered before the generic Plavix reached the market. Bristol-Myers Squibb licenses Plavix for U.S. marketing from Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY). Both companies tried to make a deal with Canada's Apotex to head off a patent challenge in exchange for payments. But state attorneys general rejected the agreement , and Apotex began selling generic Plavix. The bungled deal cost Bristol CEO Peter Dolan his job and provoked an investigation by the Justice Department, which is continuing.