Alcon, Cephalon report profit growth

The Big Pharma earnings show is winding down, but there are still a few big results to check out--and anticipate. Today, Alcon posted an increase in profits, as did biotech drugmaker Cephalon. Meanwhile, analysts are theorizing about Merck's results, which are due next week. Here's a roundup.

Alcon boosted profits by 8 percent as sales in the U.S. and emerging markets grew by double-digit percentages, Reuters reports. Profits amounted to $458 million, or $1.51 per share, while revenues rose to $1.72 billion. As you know, Alcon is in the process of being acquired by Novartis, so if this growth continues after the deal closes, it'll be contributing to the Swiss drugmaker's bottom line.

Cephalon's earnings growth came in part because of charges against fourth-quarter earnings in 2008. For 2009, profits came in at $96.6 million, or $1.23 per share, up from $5 million. Revenue grew by 6 percent to $575.1 million. Sales of its blockbuster Provigil dropped by 11 percent to $251 million--a decline of some $31 million--while sales of its successor drug Nuvigil came in at $35.6 million.

What are analysts looking for on Merck? According to the Associated Press, the Street will be watching for profit forecasts for 2010 and beyond, and will want to know how the integration with Schering-Plough is going--including the projected 16,000 in job cuts.

- see the Reuters story
- get the Cephalon piece from the AP
- read the Merck article, also from AP