* EPS ex-items $0.31
* Rev rose 27 percent to $219.6 mln
* Boosts dividend by 5.5 percent to 9.5 cents
(In U.S. dollars. Rewrites, adds details)
TORONTO, May 6 (Reuters) - Biovail Corp BVF.TO BVF.N, Canada's biggest publicly traded drugmaker, posted better-than-expected quarterly results on Thursday and said it would raise its dividend by more than 5 percent.
Biovail posted a net loss of $3.2 million, or 2 cents a share, in the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of $39 million, or 25 cents a share, for the same quarter a year earlier.
The 2010 period included $51 million in research and development expenses related to the acquisition of a schizophrenia treatment as well as the purchase of a depression treatment.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned 31 cents a share. If the cost of a legal settlement is also excluded, it earned 59 cents a share.
First-quarter revenue rose 27 percent to $219.6 million.
Analysts were expecting an average of 27 cents a share excluding items and revenue of $209.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said it would boost its dividend by 5.5 percent to 9.5 cents, payable on July 5, marking its first dividend hike since it slashed its quarterly dividend this time last year.
Biovail cut its dividend by 76 percent to 9 cents a share from 37.5 cents in May 2009 arguing that it needed to redirect the money to boost its acquisition war chest to fund the development of its new strategy to focus on treatments for central nervous system disorders.
Two years ago, the company announced plans to narrow the number of treatments it offers, and to spend $600 million through 2012 on research and development of new treatments for central nervous system (CNS) disorders.
Since then it has completed eight acquisitions of companies and products in the CNS field, including a deal with Alexza Pharmaceuticals ALXA.O to develop and commercialize its inhaled treatment for agitation. ($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson, editing by Dave Zimmerman)