Lilly tops analyst expectations despite shrinking profit, revenue

First-quarter profit fell 4 percent at Eli Lilly and Co., but the Indianapolis-based drugmaker easily beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

That prompted Lilly to boost its full-year profit forecast by 5 cents to 10 cents per share.

Lilly’s revenue and profit have been falling after it lost patent protection on two blockbuster drugs: the cancer drug Gemzar in late 2010 and the antipsychotic Zyprexa in late 2011.

But the company said sales in other parts of its business—including the antidepressant Cymbalta, the blood thinner Effient, animal health products and in China—all grew by 20 percent or more

Lilly’s quarterly revenue totaled $5.6 billion, down 4 percent from the previous year. Wall Street analysts were expecting revenue of $5.36 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

"Notwithstanding the negative effect of the expiration of the Zyprexa patent in the U.S. and many international markets, Lilly demonstrated strong underlying growth in other products and key regions,” Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a prepared statement.

Lilly’s profit in the first quarter totaled $1.01 billion, or 91 cents per share, down from $1.06 billion, or 95 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Wall Street analysts were expecting 78 cents per share in the most recent quarter, according to a Thomson Reuters.

The decline in profit was actually much larger than it seems. A year ago, Lilly booked some one-time charges for research deals with other companies and for reductions in personnel. Excluding all such charges in both years, Lilly’s per-share profit would have fallen by nearly 26 percent, from $1.24 per share in the first quarter a year ago to 92 cents per share this year.

For all of 2012, Lilly now expects per-share profit in a range of $3.15 to $3.30, excluding a penny-per-share charge taken in the first quarter for a one-time restructuring move. In January, Lilly had predicted it would earn 2012 profit of $3.10 per share to $3.20 per share.

Lilly shares were up 52 cents, or 1.3 percent, in late-morning trading, to $40.48 each. They are down 3.1 percent since the beginning of the year.

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