Pharmaceutical Pfizer beats views despite slight profit decline

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit nearly quadrupled from a year ago when it was weighed down by restructuring charges, as revenue rose 6 percent, thanks to the addition of products from fellow drugmaker Wyeth, acquired late in 2009.

The results narrowly beat Wall Street expectations. Pfizer also approved a $5 billion stock buyback plan and said it was cutting spending on research and development.

Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker by revenue, said its net income was $2.89 billion, or 36 cents per share, compared with $767 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusted net income was $3.77 billion, or 47 cents per share, down 1 percent from $3.83 billion a year earlier.

Revenue totaled $17.56 billion, up from $16.54 billion in 2009's fourth quarter.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting earnings per share of 46 cents and revenue of $16.99 billion.

The maker of cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor and impotence pill Viagra reported a 3 percent increase in sales of its prescription drugs, to $15.05 billion. Sales of veterinary medicines rose 8 percent, to $976 million, while the smaller consumer healthcare and nutrition businesses posted larger jumps, due to the addition of those Wyeth businesses.

Pfizer bought Wyeth for $68 billion in October 2009, but only recorded its revenue for part of that quarter.

Pfizer gave its first 2011 financial forecast, saying it expects earnings per share of $2.16 to $2.26, excluding just over $1 in one-time items. It expects revenue of $66 billion to $68 billion.

Analysts forecast earnings per share of $2.30 and revenue of $66.55 billion, on average.

"I am pleased with our solid financial performance again this quarter and this year despite continued challenging market conditions," new CEO Ian Read said in a statement.

Read took over after Pfizer's board unexpectedly pushed out CEO Jeffrey Kindler on Dec. 6, apparently due to the poor performance of Pfizer's stock and other issues during his 4 1/2-year tenure.

Published: Wed, Feb 2, 2011

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