Forest profits reel as Lexapro faces first copycats

Forest Laboratories' ($FRX) first-quarter results are like a survey of damage after an earthquake. The company's profits plummeted 40% as its blockbuster antidepressant Lexapro fell off patent. Plus, Forest dampened expectations for the full year, anticipating more spending on marketing and developing the new meds that might take Lexapro's place.

Net income dropped to $192.7 million from $322.5 million, on a 7% decline in revenue to $1.06 billion. Lexapro sales dropped 40% to $355.8 million--and the drug had only faced generic competition for part of the quarter.

But the Alzheimer's drug Namenda grew 20% to $355.8 million, helping to offset the Lexapro decline. Unfortunately, a follow-up antidepressant, Viibryd, only brought in $24.9 million, while the COPD remedy Daliresp tallied up $13.1 million. Both drugs have been on the market since last summer. Sales of the blood-pressure drug Bystolic came in at $96.9 million, and Forest just recently snapped up full rights to it.

As Reuters reports, the general response to Forest's numbers was this: Could have been worse. Analysts weren't expecting much from the company this quarter--everyone knows how dependent it has been on Lexapro--so the company's shares actually rose after the announcement. "Heading into Forest's 2013 guidance with relatively low expectations, we feel the results could have been worse, and looking forward, we see the focus of the Forest story shifting," JPMorgan's Chris Schott said in an investor note (as quoted by the news service).

- see the release from Forest
- read the Reuters news