Pfizer Profit Skids on Lipitor Loss

Pfizer posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.4 billion, down 50% from the year-ago period.

Pfizer on Tuesday reported that profit and sales fell in the fourth quarter, hit hard by the loss of exclusivity on its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.

Pfizer Inc., the world's leading drug maker, posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.4 billion, down 50% from the year-ago period.

Excluding exceptional items, adjusted earnings were 50 cents per share, topping the average analyst forecast of 47 cents.

Fourth-quarter revenue fell to $16.7 billion, down 4% from the year-ago period.

For the full year, Pfizer said net income rose 21% from the prior year to $10 billion on revenue up 1% to $67.4 billion.

Ian Read, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive, said 2011 was a year of setting a new direction for the company.

"I am pleased with our 2011 financial performance, which was achieved in the face of a challenging global market and product losses of exclusivity of approximately $5 billion," Read said.

Pfizer's U.S. patent on the cholesterol-lowering medication Lipitor -- the best-selling drug of all-time -- expired on Nov. 30, opening the path to generic competitors for America's most popular medication.

Read said the company boosted its research and development efforts, and has a "next wave of compounds that have shown promise" in the pipeline.

Lipitor was introduced in 1997, and has raked in some $100 billion for Pfizer even in a crowded market that includes various other cholesterol-lowering statins, many of which have already gone generic.

For fourth-quarter 2011, Pfizer's U.S. revenues were $6.3 billion, a decline of 12% from a year earlier.

The share of U.S. sales in total revenues shrank to 38% from 41%, while international revenues rose 3% to $10.4 billion.

In 2012, Read said, Pfizer plans to repurchase about $5 billion in common stock under a recently authorized $10 billion buyback program and to pay more than $6 billion in dividends.

Pfizer lowered its 2012 earnings and revenue forecasts. The company estimates earnings of $2.20 to $2.30 per share, from a prior range of $2.25 to $2.35. Revenue is seen at $60.5 billion to $62.5 billion, instead of the $62.2 billion to $64.7 billion previously forecast.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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