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Bristol-Myers reports rise in 4th-quarter profit

NEW YORK (AP) — Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. reported a 76 percent increase in the fourth-quarter profit Thursday, driven in part by sales of a recently-approved diabetes drug and hefty charges a year earlier, though the drugmaker still fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

The company focused attention on rapid sales growth for its three-year-old oral diabetes drug Onglyza, which increased 110 percent to $153 million. But results were dominated by two established products, blood thinner Plavix and the psychiatric drug Abilify.

Net income rose to $852 million, or 50 cents per share, up from $483 million, or 28 cents per share, in the 2010 quarter.

The New York company said fees and discounts under the U.S. health care overhaul reduced earnings per share by 4 cents in the latest quarter. The year-earlier results were weighted down by $324 million in expenses, including charges for streamlining global operations, depreciation and shutdown costs, licensing payments and a tax charge.

Adjusted income rose 12 percent to $906 million, or 53 cents per share, from $807 million, or 47 cents per share, for the same period of 2010. Total sales increased 7 percent to $5.45 billion from $5.11 billion.

Those results were slightly short of analyst expectations as polled by FactSet, which called for 55 cents per share on sales of $5.51 billion.

“Investors weren’t expecting much and they didn’t get much,” said Erik Gordon an analyst and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “A couple of products beat their sales estimates by a hair and a couple missed by a hair.”

Bristol-Myers said it expects 2012 full-year earnings per share between $1.90 and $2.00. Analysts are looking for $1.98 per share, on average.

Company shares fell 22 cents to close at $32.48 Friday.

Bristol-Myers and French partner Sanofi SA jointly market Plavix, the world’s second-best-selling drug, which posted a 3 percent drop in sales to $1.67 billion. The drug loses U.S. patent protection in May and Bristol has initiated a dozen or more partnerships and deals aimed at developing new revenue-generating products.

Among the most highly anticipated of those drugs is the anti-clotting pill Eliquis, which is approved in the European Union for preventing clots in patients getting hip or knee replacement surgery. Bristol and its partner on the drug, Pfizer Inc., are seeking U.S. approval for the drug for stroke prevention, which would allow them to market it for millions more patients. The Food and Drug Administration has given Eliquis a priority review, with a March 28 target date for a ruling.

Also scheduled to lose patent protection in the coming year is the blood pressure drug Avapro. Sales of that drug and its foreign counterpart Avalide fell 23 percent, to $195 million. That’s because they have generic competition in Canada, a rival’s similar drug has generic competition in many countries, and one of the three dosage forms isn’t available due to a recall.

Sales of the company’s second biggest product, schizophrenia and bipolar drug Abilify, rose 4 percent to $737 million.

For full-year 2011 the company earned $3.71 billion, or $2.16 per share, on sales of $21.24 billion. Excluding one-time items income was $2.28 per share.

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