Bristol-Myers, Abbott Earnings Rise

From Associated Press

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings more than tripled from a year earlier despite falling sales because the drug maker's net income last year was depressed by a one-time charge.

Meanwhile, healthcare company Abbott Laboratories Inc., which makes drugs, tests and devices, said its fourth-quarter profit rose just 0.2%. But its stock leaped sharply higher as Wall Street applauded a deal for Guidant Corp. in which Abbott is a key third-party player.

Bristol-Myers said it earned $499 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with $139 million, or 7 cents, in the fourth quarter of 2004. It took a $575-million charge to repatriate foreign earnings during that period.

After charges, Bristol-Myers earned 31 cents a share, beating the 28-cent consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Net sales fell 3% to $5.02 billion from $5.16 billion as New York-based Bristol-Myers struggled with patent losses on key drugs. However, sales of blood thinner Plavix, the company's best-selling product, rose 11% to $1.06 billion from $959 million.

For the year, Bristol-Myers said its operating earnings were $1.53 share.

Sales were essentially flat at $19.2 billion.

Shares of Bristol-Myers rose 64 cents, or 3%, to $21.97.

Meanwhile, Abbott's net income grew to $976.4 million, or 63 cents a share, from $974.6 million, or 62 cents, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, primarily a tax provision related to the repatriation of foreign profit, the company reported a 13% rise in net income to $1.18 billion, or 76 cents a share, meeting analysts' expectations.

Revenue rose 7% to $6.05 billion from $5.65 billion on strong sales of pharmaceuticals such as the Humira arthritis treatment.

Investors pushed up Abbott shares $2.11 or more than 5%, to $42.17.

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