Lilly's fourth-quarter profit surges, topping analysts' predictions

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Profit at Eli Lilly and Co. surged 28 percent in the fourth quarter, edging above analysts’ expectations.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker earned $1.2 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $915 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Earnings per share totaled $1.05 for the quarter, compared with 91 cents a year ago. Excluding restructuring costs from Lilly’s ongoing layoffs, the company would have earned $1.11 per share in the most recent quarter.

On that basis, Wall Street analysts were expecting profit of $1.10 per share, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

Lilly’s revenue rose 4 percent in the quarter to $6.2 billion, also exceeding analysts’ predictions. Sales grew mainly from increased demand for Lilly’s drugs in foreign markets and because of increased prices in the United States.

“These results allowed us to deliver attractive earnings growth and a healthy dividend for our shareholders, while still investing in the research and development and business development activities that will enable us to bring the next generation of new medicines to patients," said Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, in a statement.

For all of 2010, Lilly’s revenue grew 6 percent to $23.1 billion and its profit rose 17 percent to $5.1 billion. Profit per share was $4.58.

But for 2011, Lilly predicts its profit will drop by about 10 percent, to a range of $3.92 to $4.07 per share. Lilly’s bestselling drug, Zyprexa, will face generic competition in the United States and Europe beginning in November. And already, another Lilly’s blockbuster, Gemzar, is losing sales to cheaper generic copies.

Gemzar sales fell 22 percent in the fourth quarter. Lilly’s best sales growth came from Cymbalta, which grew 19 percent in the quarter.


    It is almost has if Lilly has transformed itself into a company that doesn't necessarily make complex molecules, but brokers and markets them. Very clever. Good Lord knows we need Lilly for Indy to grow.

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