Pfizer Inc. reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings as cost controls partly offset plunging sales of its Lipitor cholesterol fighter, which now faces competition from cheaper generics.
The largest U.S. drugmaker said on Tuesday that it had earned $1.79 billion, or 24 cents per share, in the first quarter. That compared with $2.2 billion, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier, when results suffered because of a litigation charge and costs of revamping research operations.
Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 58 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected 56 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell 7 percent to $15.41 billion, a bit below Wall Street expectations of $15.47 billion.
Sales of Lipitor fell 42 percent to $1.4 billion.
The New York drugmaker agreed earlier this month to sell its baby formula business to Nestle SA for $11.85 billion to focus on its core pharmaceuticals business. On Tuesday, Pfizer said it planned to allocate proceeds from the deal to share repurchases and possibly other uses.
In the meantime, Pfizer said it still intended to decide this year whether to divest its animal health unit, with any separation of the business taking place between this July and July 2013. The unit's sales rose 4 percent in the quarter to $1.03 billion.
Should it part with the business, Pfizer has said it would probably be in the form of an IPO, a route that would avoid hefty taxes.
Shares of Pfizer were down 1 percent at $22.68 in trading before the market opened.
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