Forest Labs fiscal 2Q profit soars, forecast rises

Forest Labs fiscal 2Q profit up, helped by Namenda, newer products; raises forecast for year

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Forest Laboratories Inc.'s fiscal second-quarter earnings more than tripled from last year, when the drug developer's revenue sank after a key product lost patent protection.

The New York company's stock rose Tuesday before markets opened as its results trumped Wall Street expectations and it raised its profit forecast for the year.

Forest said sales of its Alzheimer's treatment Namenda and of newer products helped lift revenue 12 percent in this year's quarter.

Overall, the company earned $70 million, or 26 cents per share, on about $855.3 million in revenue. That compares with earnings of $20.8 million, or 8 cents per share, on $760.6 million in revenue last year. Earnings excluding one-time items more than doubled, to 36 cents per share.

Analysts expected, on average, earnings of 15 cents per share on $829.5 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Revenue from Forest's antidepressant Lexapro plunged 93 percent in last year's quarter, as cheaper generic versions of the drug reached the market. Lexapro had been Forest's top-selling drug for years. This year, revenue from Namenda rose 11 percent to $407.8 million, thanks in part to a once-a-day version the company started selling earlier this year.

Forest also said new product revenue climbed 50 percent to $303 million in the quarter.

The company now expects adjusted earnings of 95 cents to $1.15 per share for the fiscal year that ends in March. That compares to a forecast it made in April for earnings of 80 cents to $1 per share.

Analysts forecast, on average, earnings of 96 cents per share.

Company shares rose 3.1 percent to $45.70 in premarket trading. The stock has gained 25 percent this year, and are up about 6 percent since last month's announcement that former Bausch & Lomb leader Brenton Saunders will become Forest's next president and CEO. The choice to replace long-standing CEO Howard Solomon, who is retiring, was backed by activist investor Carl Icahn.

In June, Forest seated a new board member selected by Icahn and averted a fight over company control. Icahn had criticized company management and demanded more information about its plans to replace Solomon.

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