Pfizer quadruples Q4 profit, predicts tough year

1st February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced bumper profits for the final quarter of 2010 Tuesday, but predicted tough challenges ahead as it moved to cut staff and research spending.

The world's largest drugmaker quadrupled fourth-quarter profits to $2.9 billion, slightly better than analysts expected, as it reaped the benefits of an October 2009 takeover of Wyeth, whose legacy products contributed $2.3 billion to sales.

But for all of 2010, profits fell four percent to $8.3 billion, heralding tough times ahead.

Bracing itself, Pfizer announced it would shutter its European research hub in Kent, Britain, with the loss of around 2,400 local jobs.

The facility had been responsible for the discovery of Viagra and dozens of other ground-breaking and lucrative drugs for the company.

Pfizer said cuts in R&D spending and other measures would help meet earnings targets, as it faces the expiration of patents on its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor in many major markets this year.

The company predicted earnings per share for 2011 well below market expectations: between $2.16-$2.22, compared with the average estimate of $2.30.

"I am pleased with our solid financial performance again this quarter and this year despite continued challenging market conditions," Ian Read, Pfizer's new president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Revenues in 2010 had climbed 36 percent from a year earlier to $67.8 billion, with earnings per share of 47 cents, a penny better than analysts expected.

Read, who took the helm of the drugmaker in December, said that Pfizer was lowering its 2012 revenue target and expanding its share buyback program.

The company now expects 2012 revenues at $63.0-65.5 billion, down from the prior forecast of $65.2-67.7 billion.

Pfizer shares surged three percent to $18.80 in opening New York trade.

© 2011 AFP

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