Pharmas offer gloomy 2009 forecasts

It's that time of year again: Earnings season. Yesterday, all the deal hoopla squeezed out Pfizer and Wyeth's results, but we have them for you today. Plus, get the numbers on Amgen and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Just for fun, we'll put them in order by percentage change, from the biggest declines to the biggest leaps.

  • Pfizer reported a whopping 90 percent drop in fourth-quarter profits to $266 million, or 4 cents per share, mostly because of a one-time charge related to its Bextra settlement (see above for more on that). But revenues also fell, by 4 percent, to $12.35 billion. That's from generic competition on Norvasc, Zyrtec and Camptosar, MarketWatch reports. And 2009 forecasts look grim: Pfizer predicts a revenue decline to between $44 billion and $46 billion, from $43.8 billion in 2008. (That's without Wyeth, natch.)
  • Wyeth income dropped by 5.6 percent to $960.4 million, with sales down 7 percent to $5.35 billion. Pharma sales in particular also dropped 7 percent, to $4.41 billion; much of the revenue drop was because of currency effects, the company said. Wyeth's best-seller remains the antidepressant Effexor, though its sales also fell by 7 percent to $902 million. And with Effexor soon to face more generic competition, that's likely to continue. The Prevnar vaccine, however, saw an 8 percent revenue boost to $603 million, and Enbrel sales grew 6 percent to $598 million.
  • Amgen's 15 percent rise in fourth-quarter profits--to $961 million--puts it right at the middle of today's pack. Revenue was essentially flat at $3.75 billion, up from a 3.5 percent drop during the same period last year. A 15 percent drop in Aranesp sales, along with disappointment in the company's 2009 forecast, spooked investors, however; Amgen forecast revenues of between $14.8 billion and $15.2 billion for the year when analysts had expected $15.4 billion. 
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb posted a whopping 50 percent-plus increase in adjusted earnings, as net income rose to $1.24 billion from a year-earlier loss of $89 million. (Now, last year's loss was generated by a variety of special charges, but percentage-wise we're looking at the adjusted EPS, which rose to 46 cents from 30 cents.) Sales grew by 3.8 percent to $5.25 billion, just shy of analyst estimates of $5.42 billion. Plavix revenues rose by 7 percent, helping to take up the slack from a 70 percent loss of Pravachol sales because of generic competition.

Stay tuned: We have yet to hear from several other Big Pharma firms.

- see Pfizer's results at MarketWatch
- get the numbers on Wyeth from PharmaTimes
- check out Amgen's details
- read the Bristol story from Dow Jones