UPDATE: Lilly sees brighter future despite setback

Eli Lilly and Co. today boosted profit forecasts for the year while reporting that first-quarter profit fell nearly 40 percent.

Officials for the Indianapolis drugmaker said they were encouraged by strong trends in certain parts of the company’s business. Excluding one-time costs, such as the recent purchase of Icos Corp., they raised full-year profit guidance by 5 cents per share to a range of $3.30 to $3.40.

“We are delivering on our goals,” Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice said in a conference call with investors and analysts. “We have a sense of urgency and are aggressively reshaping the company to win.”

For the quarter, Lilly recorded profit of $509 million, down from $835 million a year earlier. Driving the downturn was Lilly’s $2.3 billion acquisition of Bothell, Wash.-based Icos Corp., which closed in January.

Lilly developed the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis in a joint venture with Icos.

Without the Icos expense, Lilly profit jumped 9 percent, to $913.3 million.

Worldwide sales grew to $4.2 billion, a 14-percent increase. Much of the gain was fueled by sales of Cymbalta and Alimta.

Cymbalta, an antidepressant, generated sales of $442 million, 89 percent higher than during the same quarter last year. Sales of lung cancer drug Alimta grew 44 percent, to $188 million.

Sales of Lilly’s blockbuster Zyprexa schizophrenia drug increased 10 percent, to $1.1 billion, largely because of price increases and favorable exchange rates with Europe.

Lilly shares this morning were trading at $57.82, up 94 cents on the day.

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