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Lilly's profit drops 4 percent, but beats analysts' estimates

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Price increases and sales gains helped Eli Lilly and Co. offset declining revenue from its former blockbuster Zyprexa in the fourth quarter, allowing the company to beat analysts' expectations and raise its 2013 profit forecast.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker saw profit fall 4 percent, to $827 million, in the quarter, compared with the same period a year ago. That profit translated to earnings of 74 cents per share.

Excluding $204 million in charges for ending the development program of the pancreatic enzyme replacement drug liprotomase and further reducing employment, Lilly would have earned 85 cents per share in the quarter.

On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting earnings of 78 cents per share.

Lilly shares rose 3.6 percent by early afternoon, to $54.56 each.

Lilly’s fourth-quarter revenue declined 1 percent from a year ago, to just less than $6 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $5.8 billion.

“Lilly delivered solid financial results in the fourth quarter of 2012, as we successfully offset a large part of the revenue decline from the Zyprexa patent expiration with growth in other products such as Cymbalta, Forteo, Alimta, Effient and our animal health portfolio," Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a prepared statement.

Lilly boosted its 2013 profit forecast by 7 cents per share because Congress delayed the expiration of the research-and-development tax credit by one quarter. The company now expects to earn in the range of $4.10 to $4.25 per share this year. That would represent a gain of 12 percent to 16 percent over 2012.

For all of 2012, Lilly posted profit of $4.1 billion, or $3.66 per share, down 6 percent from 2011. Excluding special charges, Lilly earned $3.39 for the year,  exceeding the predictions of analysts by 6 cents.

Lilly’s 2012 revenue totaled $22.6 billion, a 7-percent decline from 2011. Analysts had been expecting full-year revenue of $22.4 billion.

Lilly’s U.S. and European patents on the antipsychotic drug Zypexa expired in the fall of 2011. That allowed cheaper generic versions of the drug to sap two-thirds of the drug’s $5 billion in annual sales.

That $3.3 billion hole in Lilly’s income statement has been mostly but not entirely filled by rising sales of other products. Sales of the antidepressant Cymbalta rose 20 percent last year to $5 billion. Sales of the osteoporosis drug Forteo and Elanco animal health products each rose 21 percent, to  $1.2 billion and $2 billion, respectively.

Lilly’s shares have risen 40 percent over the past 12 months, closing at $52.64 on Monday.

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