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Generic drugs lift AmerisourceBergen 4Q profit

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (AP) -- Prescription drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp. said Thursday its net income increased 11 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter on greater sales of lower-cost, higher-profit generic drugs, as well as a boost from recent acquisitions.

The company also raised its quarterly dividend 62 percent to 21 cents, and plans to buy back $750 million more in company stock on top of $97 million left in a previous stock buyback program.

AmerisourceBergen's July-September revenue dropped 4 percent, but its profit rose because generic drug sales are more profitable than sales of brand-name drugs. Revenue from the company's generic division fell and specialty drug revenue increased. Specialty drugs are medications that require special handling, such as IVs or infusions.

The company said its net income rose to $163.5 million, or 66 cents per share, from $147.3 million, or 54 cents per share. Revenue fell 4 percent, to $19.45 billion from $20.35 billion, helped by $335 million from acquisitions during the year.

Analysts were more optimistic. They expected profit of 68 cents per share and $20.24 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

In fiscal 2012, AmerisourceBergen said its net income rose 2 percent, to $719 million, or $2.80 per share, from $706.6 million, or $2.54 per share. Revenue fell less than 1 percent, to $79.49 billion from $80 billion.

The company said it expects to earn between $3.06 and $3.16 per share from continuing operations this year. AmerisourceBergen is pursuing the sale of its contract pharmaceutical packaging business, AndersonBrecon, which added 4 cents per share profit in 2012.

Revenue is expected to grow 6 to 9 percent, or about $84.26 billion to $86.64 billion.

Analysts are forecasting net income of $3.13 per share and $84.88 billion in revenue.

AmerisourceBergen shares rose 78 cents, or 2 percent, to $40.22 in morning trading.