Lilly, Gilead impress with Q3 sales growth


It's another big earnings day in Pharma-land, with Eli Lilly posting the results of a "great quarter," and Elan managed gains despite shrinking new-scrip numbers. Gilead Sciences boosted HIV drug sales and royalty revenues, growing sales by 31 percent. Here's the skinny:

Lilly posted $941.8 million in third-quarter net income, way up from last year's $465.6 million loss on charges. More impressively, however, the company managed to boost sales by 6.8 percent during a quarter when its rivals had a tough time on the revenue side.

Sales came in at $5.56 billion, on higher demand and higher prices; the antipsychotic Zyprexa, antidepressant Cymbalta, ED remedy Cialis, and cancer drug Alimta all posted gains. One caveat from Deutsche Bank analyst Barbara Ryan: To keep the sales growth coming, "[t]hey're probably going to have to continue to make acquisitions such as the one they did with ImClone." Fair?

Meanwhile, Elan followed the footsteps of several other drugmakers in reporting a third-quarter profit and raising its full-year earnings forecast--despite smaller-than-expected growth in sales. The company cut R&D and administrative costs by 12 percent, impressing analysts, who are expecting sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri to continue increasing. This quarter the drug grew 19 percent to some $207 million, despite falling new-scrip numbers.

Gilead posted a 42 percent boost in third-quarter profits to $673.3 million, benefiting from royalty revenues on the antiviral drug Tamiflu. The company's HIV drug sales also grew, with its combo pill Atripla posting 42 percent gains to $605 million. Total revenues rose 31 percent to $1.8 billion. The numbers met analyst expectations, but that wasn't enough for investors; the stock dropped some 2 percent yesterday.

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