INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Eli Lilly and Co.'s fourth quarter earnings slipped 4% as generic competition continued to eat away at sales of its former best-seller, the antipsychotic Zyprexa, but the drugmaker cut expenses again and growth from other products helped it beat analyst expectations.

It also raised its forecast for 2013.

Zyprexa lost U.S. patent protection in the fall of 2011, which exposed the drug to cheaper generic competition. Sales that once topped $5 billion annually, dropped steeply throughout last year and fell 49% to $384.8 million in the fourth quarter.

But revenue from the Indianapolis company's new best-seller, the antidepressant Cymbalta, climbed 20% to $1.42 billion, and the drugmaker shaved 7% off its marketing, selling and administrative expenses.

All told, Lilly said it earned $827.2 million, or 74 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31, down from $858.2 million, or 77 cents per share, in the final quarter of 2011.

The company posted adjusted earnings of 85 cents per share, not counting asset impairment, restructuring and other charges. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings 78 cents per share, on average.

Revenue fell 1% to $5.96 billion, largely due to Zyprexa. Analysts expected $5.79 billion in revenue.

Sales of Lilly's osteoporosis treatment Forteo climbed 20% to $314.6 million, and the drugmaker also saw 33% growth in the quarter from its blood thinner Effient. That drug started slowly after its 2009 launch but has picked up momentum in recent quarters. For 2012, its sales climbed 51% to $457.2 million.

Lilly also booked a charge of $64.7 million in the fourth quarter as part of its push to cut costs and reduced the company's workforce.

The drugmaker also loses U.S. patent expiration for Cymbalta at the end of this year, and it has been cutting costs as part of its plan to offset the revenue loss. Lilly also is pushing to grow its international sales, especially in emerging markets like China, and it is counting on its animal health business and its pipeline of drugs under development.

Lilly reiterated earlier this month that it expects to record at least $3 billion in annual earnings and revenue of at least $20 billion through 2014, when it starts to feel the full impact of the Cymbalta patent expiration.

For 2012, Lilly earned $4.09 billion, or $3.66 per share, on $22.6 billion in revenue.

The company said it now expects 2013 adjusted earnings of $3.82 to $3.97 per share, up from a forecast it made Jan. 4 for earnings of between $3.75 and $3.90 per share. Lilly raised the outlook to reflect a tax credit tied to the agreement Congress reached late last year to avoid hitting the so-called fiscal cliff.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $3.83 per share.

Date: January 29, 2013
Source: Associated Press