Celgene ( CELG) beat lowered first-quarter earnings expectations on weak sales of its cancer drugs.

The Summit, N.J.-based drugmaker reported adjusted earnings of 44 cents a share in the first quarter, a penny higher than the Street's consensus, which was lowered after Celgene issued a first-quarter profit warning in the beginning of April.

Total revenue in the first quarter grew 30% on a yearly basis to $601.1 million, but again, below Wall Street's original consensus expectation. That includes $362.5 million in sales of its multiple myeloma drug Revlimid, a 26% increase over the year-ago quarter.

Celgene blamed its first-quarter financial shortfall on weakening demand for its cancer drugs, including Revlimid, due to the global recession. Celgene's profit warning was one of the first concrete indicators that drug sales, even for critical cancer medicines, were being impacted by the weak economy.

Thursday, Celgene reiterated its 2009 forecast calling for total revenue at the lower end of its previously stated range of $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion. Adjusted earnings are also expected to come in at the lower end of the $2.05- to $2.15-a-share range.

Wall Street is expecting 2009 earnings per share of $2.05 on total revenue of $2.64 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Under GAAP standards, Celgene reported first-quarter net income of $162.9 million, or 35 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $1.64 billion, or $3.98 a share, which includes write offs taken as part of the Pharmion acquisition.

Celgene shares closed Wednesday at $42.40.

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