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Bristol Myers reports 10% quarterly sales growth as cancer drugs rebound

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A sign stands outside a Bristol Myers Squibb facility in Cambridge
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By Carl O'Donnell

(Reuters) - Bristol Myers Squibb Co on Wednesday said its third-quarter sales rose 10% and reported higher-than-expected earnings as its core cancer business regained momentum after a decline earlier this year.

The New York-based drugmaker's revenue for the quarter of $11.6 billion and adjusted profit of $2.00 per share both topped Wall Street estimates of $11.58 billion in sales and $1.92 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Bristol Myers raised the low end of its full-year adjusted profit forecast by 5 cents and now expects to earn $7.40 to $7.55 per share.

Bristol Myers had missed analysts' estimates in the first quarter, largely due to a decline in sales of its growth driver, the cancer immunotherapy Opdivo.

Sales growth has since recovered even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus caused a surge in global COVID-19 cases that could have kept people from seeking treatment for other diseases.

"We're seeing good recovery from COVID really across all of our markets," Chris Boerner, Bristol Myers' chief commercialization officer, said in an interview.

"In immuno-oncology, we've seen a gradual recovery in patient volume," he added. "We're still about 5 to 10% below where we were pre-COVID, but the trend is moving in the right direction."

Cancer drugs Revlimid and Opdivo generated sales of more than $3.3 billion and $1.9 billion respectively. The blood thinner Eliquis, which Bristol shares with Pfizer Inc, brought in more than $2.4 billion. All three were higher than sales reported a year earlier.

The drugmaker is continuing to look at expanding its pipeline of medicines in development through deals, mostly involving smaller, early-stage companies in areas such as cancer, immunology, and cardiovascular health, Chief Financial Officer David Elkins said.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Bristol Myers has expressed interest in buying autoimmune disease drug developer Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc, citing people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Carl O'Donnell; Editing by Bill Berkrot)