Bristol beats forecasts, but blood-clot drug disappoints


By Ransdell Pierson

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Bristol-Myers Squibb Co reportedbetter-than-expected quarterly earnings, fueled by strong salesof cancer and diabetes drugs, but weak demand for its newEliquis blood clot medicine dampened investor enthusiasm.

The company on Wednesday said it earned $692 million, or 42cents per share in the third quarter. That compared with a lossof $711 million, or 43 cents per share, in the year-earlierperiod when the company took a big charge for an experimentalhepatitis C drug that showed disappointing results in clinicaltrials.

Excluding special items, Bristol-Myers earned 46 cents pershare. Analysts, on average, expected 44 cents per share,according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Eliquis, which was approved in December to prevent strokescaused by an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation,posted sales of $41 million. Analysts said that was adisappointing showing for a drug expected to eventually claimannual sales of $5 billion or more.

"Eliquis is working against Bristol at the moment," EdwardJones analyst Judson Clark said, but added that overall companyresults were "solid."

Morningstar analyst Damien Conover said many investors arebecoming nervous about the slow ramp-up for Eliquis, atwice-daily pill sold in partnership with Pfizer Inc.

It was approved on the heels of two other new blood clotpreventers that have become blockbuster products, Pradaxa fromBoehringer Ingelheim and Xarelto from Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG. Xarelto is favored by many patientsbecause it is only taken once a day.

"But we think Eliquis will eventually be the leader becauseof its superior data" from clinical trials, Conover said,referring to Eliquis' ability to prolong lives of patients - afinding not seen in trials of Pradaxa and Xarelto.

Global Bristol-Myers revenue rose 9 percent to $4.07billion, topping Wall Street expectations of $3.99 billion.

The company reaffirmed it expects earnings for full-year2013 of $1.70 to $1.78 per share, excluding special items. Itearned $1.99 per share last year.

Diabetes drug Onglyza and a related drug called Kombiglyzehad combined sales of $211 million, up 19 percent from theyear-ago period. Sales of Orencia, for rheumatoid arthritis,rose 22 percent to $375 million.

Sales of leukemia drug Sprycel jumped 20 percent to $316million, while sales of Yervoy - a new type of treatment formelanoma that works by spurring the immune system - soared 33percent to $238 million.

Double-digit sales gains of such newer drugs helped offsetplunging sales of blood clot preventer Plavix, and bloodpressure medicine Avapro, which are both facing competition fromcheaper generics.

The company's shares fell 1.4 percent to $49.01 in middaytrading on the New York Stock Exchange, amid a moderate downturnfor the drug sector.

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