Unfortunate Q4 Earnings Results for Pfizer

Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) reported sharply down fourth quarter results that reflected the company’s woes on account of off-patent Lipitor. Currency headwinds in the shape of a strong dollar forced the company to cut its 2012 profit forecast.

Earnings were $1.44 billion (19 cents a share) compared to $2.89 billion (36 cents a share) in the same period a year ago. But for special items, profit would have been 50 cents a share, slightly rosier than what analysts expected at 47 cents. In all fairness to Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), it should be noted that the overall results look very unfavorable because the year ago period had the benefit of a large tax benefit.

Lipitor, its blockbuster drug for many years, lost patent protection and sales to generic copycats – as a result sales declined 42 percent in the U.S. and 24 percent globally. This was offset marginally by sales gains in other major products such as anti-arthritis drug Enbrel and painkiller Celebrex (both up 7 percent). Anti-impotence drug Viagra sales were higher by 5 percent.

Ironically, the best results were actually contributed by divisions that may ultimately be hived off by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) – nutritional products and animal health, with sales growing 22 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) previous outlook for 2012 earnings per share was $2.25 to $2.35 – this has now been revised downwards to $2.20 to $2.30 a share. Similarly revenues are forecast to be $60.5 billion to $62.5 billion, against the previous estimate of $62.2 billion to $64.7 billion.

Competitors to Watch: Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE:GSK), Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY), Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS), Mylan Inc. (NASDAQ:MYL), Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), and Sanofi-Aventis SA (NYSE:SNY).

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