Pfizer Profit Slips 3% as Lipitor Demand Slows

From Associated Press

Pfizer Inc. said fourth-quarter earnings fell 3% on slowing demand for the Lipitor cholesterol treatment. The stock rose because investors expected a steeper profit decline.

Fourth-quarter net income decreased to $2.73 billion, or 37 cents a share, from $2.83 billion, or 38 cents, a year earlier, New York-based Pfizer said. Revenue dropped for the second straight quarter, by 9% to $13.6 billion, as Pfizer faced more competition from cheaper generic drugs.

Lipitor sales rose 3%, compared with more than 20% in each of the first two quarters of 2005. Sales of Lipitor, generating about a fifth of Pfizer's revenue, may fall this year as Merck & Co.'s patent on the rival drug Zocor expires, opening the way for low-cost generics to compete with both branded drugs.

Excluding certain costs, Pfizer said quarterly profit was 51 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates by 21%.

Shares of Pfizer rose 97 cents, or 4%, to $24.97.

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