Pfizer fourth-quarter results top forecast, gives cautious 2013 view

Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:42am EST
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By Ransdell Pierson

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: Quote) on Tuesday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, helped by rebounding sales in emerging markets, but the drugmaker forecast that 2013 profits would be weaker than Wall Street has estimated.

Pfizer, the largest U.S. drugmaker, said quarterly earnings quadrupled to $6.32 billion, or 86 cents per share, as it recorded a gain from selling its nutritional products business to Swiss food groups Nestle SA NESN.VX for about $12 billion in November.

In the year-earlier quarter, it posted a profit of $1.44 billion, or 19 cents per share.

Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 47 cents per share in the quarter. Analysts, on average, expected 44 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Global company sales fell 7 percent to $15.1 billion, hurt by generic competition for its Lipitor cholesterol fighter, but came in well above expectations of $14.37 billion.

Pfizer forecast full-year 2013 earnings of $2.20 to $2.30 per share, excluding special items. The average analyst estimate was $2.29 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

"Pfizer's 2013 forecast is a little lighter than expected, but won't cause me to lose sleep," said Judson Clark, an analyst with Edward Jones.

He said the forecast would have been 2 cents per share higher, and roughly in line with expectations, if not for expenses related to a planned spinoff of its animal health business into a new company called Zoetis.   Continued...

The entrance of Pfizer World headquaters in New York City, August 31, 2003. ECONM REUTERS/Jeff Christensen