AZ's Crestor rises as Vytorin falls

Back when bad publicity started to surround the Merck/Schering-Plough statin Vytorin, industry observers theorized that another cholesterol med might reap the benefits: Crestor. Well, judging by this quarter's earnings reports, those observers were right. Vytorin and its sister drug Zetia continued to decline, while AstraZeneca's Crestor managed healthy growth. According to AZ's numbers, company sales burgeoned to $7.78 billion, an increase of 9 percent or so, based on Crestor's strong expansion, plus growth in emerging markets.

Crestor, in fact, helped offset the suffering Nexium, that "little purple pill" that AstraZeneca once could count on to boost its revenues. Nexium lost ground in the quarter, despite the fact that AstraZeneca successfully held off a copycat version from Ranbaxy Laboratories with a manufacturing deal to start next year

Details: In the three months to Sept. 30, AstraZeneca's net profit rose to $1.73 billion from $1.34 billion in the same period a year earlier. Pretax profit rose 29 percent to $2.44 billion, ahead of analysts' expectations of $2.15 billion.

Plus, the U.K.-based drug maker lifted its guidance for core earnings per share, which are now expected in a $4.90 to $5.05 range. Previous guidance was in a $4.60 to $4.90 range.

- read the Wall Street Journal article