Bristol-Myers sees downturn in earnings, despite sales uptick

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Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has reported its 2009 first quarter net earnings from continuing operations attributable to the shareholders of $638 million, compared to $647 million for the same period in 2008.

The New York City-based company posted first quarter 2009 net sales from continuing operations of $5 billion, an increase of 3 percent, compared to the same period in 2008.

For its biopharmaceuticals unit, which includes the antiplatelet blockbuster Plavix and hypertension drug Avapro/Avalide, BMS said its U.S. net sales increased 13 percent to $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008. Its international biopharmaceuticals net sales decreased 11 percent, or increased to $1.5 billion, which the company attributed to negative foreign exchange impact.

However, the company's earnings were adversely affected by both increased administrative and research & development (R&D) expenses. Advertising and product promotion spending increased by 2 percent to $324 million in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008, BMS reported. Also, its R&D expenses increased by 18 percent to $923 million in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

"We made outstanding strategic progress, taking decisive actions that shift our focus toward future growth as a BioPharma leader," said James M. Cornelius, chairman and CEO of BMS. "We also completed two more transactions that advanced our String of Pearls strategy--expanding our pipelines in virology and cardiology--all while maintaining a strong balance sheet and carefully managing costs. The company said it is building its 2013 and 2014 earnings base and addressing the expected loss of patent exclusivity on Plavix and Avapro.