Sanofi profits leap; Wyeth results flatten

Earnings season marches on with word from Wyeth (soon to be swallowed by Pfizer, which reported last week) and Sanofi-Aventis, plus pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions.

Let's look first at Sanofi, which boosted profits by an impressive 16 percent, largely on growing demand for its diabetes remedy Lantus. Net income (adjusted) grew to $2.9 billion, easily topping the $2.61 billion expected by analysts, Bloomberg reported. Sales increased by 2.5 percent overall to $9.36 billion. Lantus itself posted gains of 27 percent on the quarter. CEO Chris Viehbacher (photo) credited that drug, emerging-markets growth and "good old-fashioned cost-control" for the strong showing. "We're certainly off to a good start for the year," he said during a briefing.

Meanwhile, Wyeth's numbers suffered on the stronger dollar and on faltering sales of its top seller, the antidepressant Effexor, the Wall Street Journal reports. Net income amounted to $1.2 billion, up only slightly year-over-year. Revenues, however, dropped by 5.8 percent to $5.38 billion; without the impact of the dollar's strength, sales would have risen by 2 percent. Among its growing products: arthritis med Enbrel, pediatric vaccine Prevnar and nutritional products. Effexor, however, saw its sales fall by 20 percent.

The most interesting nugget in Medco's earnings report was its revenue growth, coming as it did from increased sales of higher-margin generics. Net income leapt by 8 percent to $291 million on a 14 percent rise in sales to $14.83 billion. Also notable was the fact that scrip volume didn't suffer on the economic weakness; perhaps increasingly cost-conscious patients switched to mail-order drugs rather than retail pharmacy products. Analysts said eroding insurance coverage may translate into lower Medco sales as the year wears on, however.

- see the Sanofi story at Bloomberg
- get more on Wyeth from the WSJ
- read the Reuters piece on Medco