Here’s How Pfizer Continues to Battle its Lipitor Losses

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings Tuesday morning, citing cost controls that partly offset plunging sales of its cholesterol drug, Lipitor, which has faced competition from cheaper generic drugs since its patent expired last year.

The largest U.S. drugmaker reported earnings of $1.79 billion, or 24 cents per share, for the first quarter, compared with $2.2 billion, or 28 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding special items, Pfizer earned 58 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters on average expected EPS of 56 cents.

Revenue fell 7 percent to $15.41 billion, just short of analysts’ expectations of $15.47 billion. Sales of Lipitor fell 42 percent to $1.4 billion.

Earlier this month, Pfizer agreed to sell its baby formula business to Nestle for $11.85 billion as it shifted focus toward its core pharmaceuticals business. On Tuesday, Pfizer said that the proceeds from that sale would go toward share repurchases and possibly other uses.

Pfizer also said it will decide this year whether to divest its animal health unit. The unit’s sales rose 4 percent in the first quarter to $1.03 billion. If it were to part with the business, Pfizer said it would likely be in the form of an IPO, which avoids hefty taxes incurred in a sale.

Shares of Pfizer were down 0.61 percent this morning at 8:46 a.m. EDT.