Viagra Sales Help Boost Pfizer Profit

From Times Wire Reports

The spectacular debut of the impotence drug Viagra helped pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. post a 38% increase in second-quarter profit, the company said Thursday.

Meanwhile, California drug maker Vivus Inc. reported a second-quarter loss because demand for its Muse treatment for impotence plunged after Viagra hit the market.

In its first earnings report to reflect sales of Viagra, Pfizer said it earned $628 million, or 47 cents per share on a diluted basis, in the quarter ended June 28, up from $457 million, or 35 cents, a year ago. Revenue jumped 25% to $3.63 billion.


Viagra made its debut on April 10. Since then, 2.7 million prescriptions have been filled and $411 million in sales have been recorded, Pfizer said.

The results, released just before the close of stock-market trading, beat analysts’ expectations of 45 cents per share, according to a survey by First Call Corp.

Pfizer shares rose $2.50 to close at $116 on the New York Stock Exchange.

While Viagra grabbed the headlines and accounted for more than 11% of the company’s total revenue, it wasn’t the only drug filling Pfizer’s coffers. Sales of its top-selling drug, calcium channel blocker Norvasc, rose 18% to $618 million.

Zoloft, a drug to treat depression and panic disorder, showed a sales gain of 23% to $398 million, and sales of allergy drug Zyrtec jumped 51% to $105 million. But sales from its medical technology business fell 12% to $321 million.

Mountain View-based Vivus said it lost $17.7 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, for the second quarter, compared with net income of $9.96 million, or 28 cents, a year ago. Revenue fell 52% to $16 million.

Retail prescriptions for Muse, which was the top-selling treatment for impotence last year, have dropped 70% since the introduction of Viagra.

Vivus shares fell $1.47 to close at $7.72 on Nasdaq. The company released earnings results after the close of trading.

Separately, Abbott Laboratories, one of the world’s biggest makers of medical tests and drugs, said second-quarter profit rose 12% to $585.6 million, or 38 cents a diluted share, from a year ago, beating analyst estimates by a penny. Sales rose 5.7% to $3.07 billion.

At a Glance

Other earnings reported Thursday, shown excluding one-time gains and charges, unless noted:

* Dow Jones & Co. said second-quarter profit rose 11% to $54.7 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, from a year ago, beating estimates of 46 cents. The results do not include previously announced charges and losses at its former Telerate unit.

Profit from its print publishing segment--which includes the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and the company’s U.S. television operations--slipped 5%. The decline reflected losses from television, higher newsprint prices and weaker advertising in Asian publications and by Asian companies in the Journal’s U.S. edition.

Electronic publishing, which includes Dow Jones Newswire and its Internet publications, recorded a 14% increase in profit.

* Safeway Inc., the nation’s No. 2 supermarket chain, said its fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 44% to $193.2 million, or 38 cents a diluted share, from a year ago, aided by strong same-store sales growth and cost savings. The results beat the average analyst estimate of 36 cents.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway’s sales rose 6.5% to $5.58 billion, with sales at stores open at least a year up 8%. Safeway also said it slashed interest expenses in the quarter and improved product selection and buying practices.

* BRE Properties Inc., the largest West Coast apartment real estate investment trust, said second-quarter funds from operations rose 48% to $23.5 million, or 52 cents a share, from a year ago, amid higher rents and property acquisitions. Analysts expected 51 cents. Revenue for the San Francisco-based company rose to $49.2 million from $32.2 million.

* Burlington Resources Inc.'s second-quarter earnings fell 58% to $23 million, or 13 cents a share diluted, from a year ago, missing consensus estimates of 16 cents. The oil and natural gas exploration company’s revenue fell 3.5% to $412 million.

* SunTrust Banks Inc. said second-quarter earnings rose 11.9% to $185 million, or 88 cents a diluted share, from a year ago, fueled by trust, mortgage banking and investment service fees. Analysts had expected 87 cents from the nation’s 19th-largest bank. Net interest income rose 5.3% to $504.7 million.


Potent prescription

Pfizer’s popular impotence drug, Viagra, helped to boost the company’s earnings by 38% in the second quarter over 1997’s second-quarter results. Revenues and earnings for the nation’s No. 2 drugmaker for the last four years:


2nd-quarter 1998: $3.63 billion



2nd-quarter 1998: $628 million

Sources: Bloomberg News, company reports