Sales, profits fall short for Lilly's 'ho-hum' quarter

It could have been worse. That's the general reaction to Eli Lilly's ($LLY) third-quarter results. The company fell short of analyst estimates, both on earnings and on sales. Generics lopped off 68% of Zyprexa's sales. Other key drugs didn't perform as expected, either.

But, yes, it could have been worse. As the Indianapolis Star reports, analysts called it a "ho-hum quarter." As ISI Group's Mark Schoenbaum said in an investor note, the quarter was [m]arginally weak, but not terrible."

Net income rose 7.3% to $1.33 billion, partly because of a one-time gain--on the sale of partner Amylin Pharmaceuticals to Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY)--of $788 million. On the other hand, revenue dropped by 11% to $5.41 billion, almost $200 million lower than average estimates, Bloomberg says.

Zyprexa sales amounted to just $374.5 million, Lilly says. On the other hand, the antidepressant Cymbalta grew by 16% to $1.24 billion, partially offsetting the Zyprexa decline. The company unveiled disappointing data for some key experimental drugs--as well as for its newish blood thinner Effient. On the other hand, Effient sales did grow during the period--by 31%, to $109.7 million. And Lilly's patent on the cancer drug Alimta won legal backing through 2017.

We'll hear more from Lilly execs as they take questions from analysts on this quarter's earnings call. In the meantime, we'll leave you with this from chairman and CEO John Lechleiter: "We are executing well on our business objectives and advancing our pipeline that now has more than 60 molecules in clinical development. We remain firmly committed to our innovation-based strategy."

- see the release from Lilly
- read the Indy Star story
- check out the Bloomberg piece

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