Wyeth's Resilience

On Thursday, drugmaker Wyeth (NYSE: WYE  ) reported third-quarter results that included several positive trends that has the stock headed back in the right direction. Heading into the day, the stock was trading more than 20% off of June's 52-week high. Fortunately, the market was impressed enough to push shares 3% higher yesterday.

After adjusting for non-routine items, the company reported a 7% spike in earnings per share on a 9% increase in net revenue compared with a year ago. There was a 4% increase in net revenue from the company's top-selling drug, the anti-depressant Effexor. More impressive were the Nos. 2 and 3 sellers, Prevnar and Enbrel. Net revenue for Prevnar, a vaccine for infants, grew by 24%. For Enbrel, a medication for inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis that Wyeth markets with Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN  ) , net revenue increased by 39%. These three drugs now account for 38% of Wyeth's total net revenue.  

Revenue grew for all three of Wyeth's businesses, including 11% in its animal health business. Wyeth is not the only large-cap pharmaceutical company experiencing an improvement in that business. On Wednesday, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) reported a 13% growth in quarterly revenue in its animal health business. Apparently Fido and Max are getting older, too.

These strong results by Wyeth, coupled with a reasonable valuation of its common stock, enabled it to increase its share repurchase authorization to $5 billion. This move toward buying back depressed shares is similar to one Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) recently made to buy back $2 billion worth of its common stock as part of a $10 billion share repurchase program.

Wyeth continues to be one of big pharma's most reliable performers from an operations standpoint, and the latest quarter is an outstanding example of its consistency.

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