Generics drag on Glaxo; Gilead profits up 21%

Yet another big earnings day in pharma, with yet another pharma giant reporting an earnings shortfall. This time, it's GlaxoSmithKline whose profits missed targets. Ireland's Elan saw its losses grow and Cubist Pharmaceuticals' profits dropped, while specialty pharma Gilead Sciences reported an upswing. Here's the 411:

  • Glaxo suffered from generic competition--plus higher costs and research write-offs--to end up with $2.81 billion in pre-tax profits on a 19 percent increase in sales. But without the currency effects, pre-tax profits actually fell by 31 percent. Generic copies of the epilepsy/psychiatric drug Lamictal and antidepressant Wellbutrin hurt, as well as other generics. But CEO Andrew Witty (photo) promised that the second half of 2009 would be better, with less impact from generics and increased new-product sales.
  • Elan's net loss grew to $102.6 million from $85.5 million a year ago, despite healthy growth in sales of its MS drug Tysabri. Meanwhile, the company's "strategic review" of its options, including the sale of a stake in the company, is ongoing, CEO Kelly Martin said. Analysts weren't pleased by the lack of good news. "The future is still uncertain," one said.
  • Gilead blew away previous earnings records with a first-quarter net income of $589.1 million, or 63 cents per share, up from $488.3 million or 51 cents during last year's first quarter. The company posted $1.53 billion in sales, a 22 percent increase year-over-year. And that despite the fact that a stronger dollar depressed worldwide sales by about $22.3 million. The star? Atripla, whose sales grew 57 percent to $509.9 million.
  • Cubist profits beat analyst expectations, in part because of a 31 percent increase in U.S. sales of its antibiotic injectable drug Cubicin. Still, profits were down; the company posted net profit of $7.8 million, compared with $9.7 million a year ago. Revenues came in at $121.1 million.

- see the GSK news from Reuters 
- read Bloomberg's take on Elan
- check out the Gilead story from Dow Jones
- get Cubist's numbers from Reuters