Profit falls at Lilly but meets Wall Street expectations

Profit fell at Eli Lilly and Co. in the third quarter but met Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker earned $1.24 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, down 5 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

Profit per share was $1.11 in the quarter. Excluding severance costs for laid-off workers, Lilly would have earned $1.13 per share, the same number analysts were expecting, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

Lilly’s revenue in the quarter surged 9 percent from the third quarter of last year to $6.15 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $6.06 billion.

“In the third quarter Lilly continued to drive revenue growth for many key brands, including Cymbalta, Humalog, Forteo and Strattera, with strong growth also seen in animal health, Japan and China. This growth offset the continued erosion of Gemzar sales due to generic competition,” said Lilly CEO John Lechleiter in a prepared statement.

Lilly is three days away from the expiration of its U.S. patent on Zyprexa, its best-selling drug. The $5 billion-a-year antipsychotic therapy also loses patent protection in Europe this month.

In a statement this morning, Lilly said, “the company expects the introduction of generics to result in a rapid and severe decline in Zyprexa sales.”

Lilly is trying desperately to offset those lost sales with rapid growth of its other products. The four Lechleiter cited all saw their sales grow by 20 percent or more in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

Cymbalta led the way, growing sales by 29 percent over last year to $1.1 billion.

Sales at Lilly’s animal health subsidiary, Greenfield-based Elanco, grew 28 percent in the quarter to $451 million.

Sales of the cancer drug Gemzar, which saw its patent expire in November 2010, plummeted 72 percent in the quarter to just $91 million.

Lilly did not raise its full-year profit forecast, but narrowed the range of its expectations. The company expects to earn $3.89 to $3.94 per share for the year, compared with an earlier prediction of $3.85 to $3.95 per share.

Excluding charges for licensing drugs from other companies and laying off workers, Lilly expects to earn $4.30 to $4.35 per share. On that basis, Lilly previously said it would earn $4.25 to $4.35 for the year.

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