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Eli Lilly posts 3Q profit ahead of forecasts

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Eli Lilly & Co. said Wednesday it turned a profit in the third quarter as sales volume on several drugs climbed, but its newest drug and key source of future revenue started slowly.

Indianapolis-based Lilly also raised its 2009 forecast for the second time since July.

Lilly said its worldwide revenue rose 7 percent with its top-seller, the anti-psychotic Zyprexa, bringing in $1.2 billion, or 3 percent more than it did the same quarter last year. Zyprexa sales were flat in the first quarter of 2009 and fell 3 percent in the second quarter.

The company’s second-best seller, the antidepressant Cymbalta, showed 10 percent growth, while sales for cancer drug Alimta climbed 47 percent to $462 million.

For the third quarter of 2009, Lilly said it earned $941.8 million, or 86 cents per share. Excluding restructuring and other costs, Lilly earned $1.20 per share. Thomson Reuters says analysts expected $1.02 per share.

A year ago, Lilly lost $465.6 million, or 43 cents per share, after setting aside almost $1.5 billion to settle government investigations into the marketing of Zyprexa.

Revenue grew to $5.56 billion from $5.21 billion, which exceeded Wall Street expectations of $5.41 billion.

Revenue from collaborations with other companies and other revenue rose 51 percent to $176.5 million, mainly due to royalties from the cancer treatment Erbitux and sales of the diabetes treatment Byetta.

Most of the restructuring costs in the quarter came from Lilly’s sale of an Indiana manufacturing plant to Evonik Industries for an undisclosed amount. Lilly took a charge of 23 cents per share on the sale, which is part of a plan to cut thousands of jobs and $1 billion in annual spending by the end of 2011.

The drug maker also posted a charge of 7 cents per share related to Zyprexa litigation.

Worldwide sales of the much-anticipated blood thinner Effient, which Lilly developed with Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo Co., totaled $22.6 million. Lilly launched Effient in the U.S. in August, more than a month into the quarter after receiving Food and Drug Administration approval in July. Sales started in Europe earlier this year.

Analysts covering Lilly have raised questions about the drugmaker’s future revenue sources since patents protecting top sellers Zyprexa and Cymbalta, among other drugs, will expire in a few years.

Miller Tabak analyst Les Funtleyder said in a research note before Wednesday’s earnings release the Effient launch “appears to be moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.”

Lilly cut its sales costs by about $100 million in the third quarter, but that was more than offset by greater spending on research and development and marketing.

The company now expects a full-year adjusted profit of $4.30 to $4.40 per share, excluding one-time items, up from $4.20 to $4.30 per share. Analysts expected $4.29 per share.

Lilly had previously raised its full-year outlook in July from a range of $4 to $4.25 per share.

AP Business Writer Marley Seaman in New York contributed to this report.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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