Lilly posts lackluster profit but boosts full-year forecast

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Eli Lilly and Co.’s profits plunged 18 percent in the second-quarter but still easily beat the lowered expectations of Wall Street analysts.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker also raised its full-year profit forecast by 10 cents per share.

In the three months ended June 30, Lilly earned $600.8 million, down from $733.5 million in the same quarter a year ago. Earnings per share totaled 56 cents, down from 68 cents in the same quarter last year.

Excluding a bevy of extraordinary charges, Lilly’s profits would have totaled 90 cents per share, up from 74 cents per share a year ago.

Analysts were expecting 74 cents per share in profit, according to a survey by Bloomberg News.

Lilly raised its full-year profit forecast from a range of $3.10 and $3.20 per share, excluding extraordinary charges, to now be in a range of $3.20 to $3.30 per share.

Lilly’s results are still suffering from the European patent expirations last year on its blockbuster Cymbalta, as well as the patent expirations on another blockbuster, called Evista.

The loss of sales from those products, along with changes in currency exchange rates, hampered Lilly’s revenue, but it still eeked up 1 percent in the quarter to $4.98 billion. That also reflected some boost from Lilly’s acquisition of Novartis Animal health.

Lilly has been rebuilding its drug pipeline after a wave of patent expirations pushed quarterly sales to a seven-year low this year.

On Wednesday, it reported data from an extended trial of its experimental Alzheimer’s drug that showed patients who started earlier in their disease did better on follow-up memory and thinking tests than those who waited to be treated. Investors had a warm but guarded response, bidding up shares 1 percent to $86.45.

Lilly has a late-stage trial of the drug under way, and some analysts say it could generate more than $5 billion a year if successful.

In late-morning trading on Thursday, Lilly shares were essentially unchanged, fetching $86.16.

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