Pfizer results fall short; company trims profit forecast

Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:53pm EDT
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By Ransdell Pierson

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: Quote) reported much lower-than-expected first-quarter sales on Tuesday, hurt by weak demand for its Prevnar 13 vaccine used to prevent pneumonia and other infections, and it trimmed its 2013 profit forecast.

Pfizer, whose shares fell 3.6 percent in afternoon trading, earned $2.75 billion, or 38 cents per share in the quarter. That was up from $1.79 billion, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier, when it took restructuring and legal charges.

Excluding special items, including a $490 million gain from the transfer of product rights to an investment vehicle in China that Pfizer partly owns, the company earned 54 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 55 cents.

"It was just a lousy quarter, relative to the company's potential and earnings power," said Michael Liss, portfolio manager with American Century Investments.

Revenue for the largest U.S. drugmaker fell 9 percent to $13.5 billion, below Wall Street expectations of $13.99 billion. It would have declined 8 percent if not for the stronger dollar, which hurts sales overseas.

Liss said U.S. sales of Prevnar, the company's third-biggest product, were $150 million below forecasts because wholesalers, with adequate supplies already on hand, held off on purchases of the vaccine.

Sales of Prevnar 13 were down 10 percent at $846 million. They rose 19 percent in the prior quarter.

"Prevnar just jumps off the page as a disappointment," said Edward Jones analyst Judson Clark.   Continued...

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