Lilly, Novartis sales flat; Novo's rise 15%

As promised, another raft of pharma earnings reports today, ranging from a $3.63 billion loss at Eli Lilly--because of its big acquisition of ImClone Systems--to a 138 percent hike in profits at Novo Nordisk. Here we go.

  • Lilly booked a $4.73 billion charge on its ImClone deal, pushing its fourth-quarter operating results into the red by $3.31 per share. That compares with $854.4 million in profits for the same period last year. Net sales were essentially flat, rising 0.4 percent to $5.21 billion; analysts had expected $5.42 billion. One culprit: Zyprexa, which saw a 10 percent drop in sales, 4 percent in the U.S. and 15 percent internationally.
  • Fourth quarter revenue doubled at Celgene, to $623 million, fueled largely by the blood cancer drug Revlimid, which posted a robust 49 percent sales growth. In fact, it accounted for more than half of the company's sales for the quarter. The company isn't forecasting such a large growth spurt this year: Only 28 percent for 2009 Revlimid sales, which would amount to about $1.7 billion.
  • Novartis reported a 70 percent hike in fourth-quarter profits, to $1.54 billion. (Without a big charge against last year's numbers, though, the growth amounted to only 14 percent). Sales rose by a paltry 1 percent, however, to $10.8 billion, so the profit gains stemmed from cost-cutting. Perhaps more significant, CEO Daniel Vasella (photo) is predicting 5 percent sales growth for the coming year, one of the more optimistic Big Pharma forecasts we've yet seen.
  • Novo Nordisk takes the prize for profit growth: 138 percent. Unfortunately, like Novartis, Novo took a big charge against earnings for the same period last year, so the percentage is skewed. But sales leapt by 15 percent globally, and 24 percent in North America. For the full year, profits grew 13 percent on an 11 percent hike in revenues to about $5.6 billion.

Who are we missing? Merck, for one, which will report its 2008 results on Feb. 3.

- read the Dow Jones story at CNN Money
- check out the Celgene news at The Street
- see the Wall Street Journal's Novartis article
- get the Novo news from AP in the International Herald Tribune