Lilly profit swells on success of new drugs

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Eli Lilly and Co. profit grew 10 percent in the fourth quarter, to $986.4 million, on the strength of sales for its newer products.

Sales of drugs including Cymbalta, Cialis, Alimta, Byetta and Forteo – all launched this decade – grew 30 percent in the quarter. Total sales grew 16 percent to $5.19 billion.

The Indianapolis-based drug maker recorded earnings per share of 90 cents, beating by a penny the expectations of Wall Street analysts, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

The results exclude certain extraordinary items and assume that Lilly owned its subsidiary Icos Corp. in both 2006 and 2007. Lilly acquired the inventor of Cialis, an impotence drug, in January 2007.

For the year, Lilly’s sales rose 14 percent to $18.7 billion. Profit and earnings per share both grew 17 percent, to $3.86 billion and $3.54, respectively.

Excluding special items and adjustments, Lilly earned $854.4 million, or 78 cents per share, in the quarter. That compares with net income of $132.3 million, or 12 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

On that same basis, Lilly’s 2007 net income and earnings per share both grew 11 percent, to $2.95 billion and $2.71, respectively.

Lilly’s bestselling drug, the antipsychotic Zyprexa, closed the year with $4.7 billion in sales, a 9-percent rise over the previous year.

Cymbalta, Lilly’s No. 2 drug, topped $2 billion in sales in 2007.

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