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Pfizer profits drop sharply, but beat expectations

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Tuesday reported a big drop in quarterly profits, but bested analyst expectations and pointed to several new drugs in development. 

NEW YORK: US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Tuesday reported a big drop in quarterly profits, but bested analyst expectations and pointed to several new drugs in development.

Pfizer, which has been bruised in recent quarters by patent expirations on some blockbuster drugs, said fourth-quarter profits fell nearly 60 percent due mainly to an asset sale in the year-ago period.

However, fourth-quarter operating income in 2013 rose compared with the year-ago period.

Revenues fell 2.4 percent as Pfizer continued to deal with the patent expiration of cholesterol drug Lipitor, sexual dysfunction drug Viagra and others.

Pfizer chief executive Ian Read cited several upcoming clinical reports that are being closely watched on Wall Street, including for palbociclib for treatment of advanced breast cancer and bococizumab for cholesterol reduction.

"We enter 2014 with confidence in the competitive positioning of our commercial businesses, the prospects for our recently launched products and the strength of our research pipeline," Read said.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $2.6 billion on revenues of $13.6 billion, down 59.3 percent from the year-ago level of $6.3 billion on revenues of $13.9 billion.

The 2012 quarter was boosted by the sale of Pfizer's nutrition business, which produced a one-time gain of $4.8 billion.

Those results translated into per-share earnings of 56 cents, four cents above analyst expectations. Revenues were also ahead of the $13.4 billion analyst forecast.

For all of 2013, Pfizer reported net income of $22.0 billion on revenues of $51.6 billion, up 51 percent from the 2012 level of $14.6 billion on revenues of $54.7 billion.

Pfizer forecast 2014 earnings per share of $2.20-$2.30 compared with analyst estimates of $2.28. Pfizer's 2013 earnings per share came in at $2.22.

Pfizer aggressively bought back shares in 2013, acquiring $16.3 billion of common stock and reducing the share count by about 13 percent.

Pfizer shares were up 3.0 percent to $30.55 in pre-market trade.

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