When is "not that great" good enough? Well, how about when people expect things to be pretty bad? When that happens, "not that great" starts looking pretty good.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) posted second-quarter results that weren't all that great, but they were still better than prior guesses. Sales were up 1% to $4.9 billion as the company posted a mix of 1% better volume, 2% worse pricing, and a 2% benefit from foreign exchange. Please, control your enthusiasm.

While overall U.S. sales were flat, U.S. pharmaceutical sales were up 1%, as were overall global pharmaceutical sales. Plavix, which is co-marketed with Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY), continued to do quite well in the second quarter -- growing 26% and making up roughly one-quarter of the unit's sales. Pravachol continues to decline, though the pace improved to 5% in this quarter, and the drug still makes up about 16% of pharmaceutical sales.

Like the performance of the two Snow Whites (Plavix and Pravachol), the performance of the Dwarves was also mixed. Newer drugs such as Reyataz, Abilify, and Erbitux continue to grow nicely, but many other lesser drugs continue to stagger off into the sunset.

Unlike some pharmaceutical companies, Bristol-Myers' non-prescription-drug businesses actually matter. Sales from the nutritionals business climbed 7% to $548 million, while the company's other health-care businesses (imaging, over-the-counter medicines, and such) were flat at $455 million.

The story at Bristol-Myers continues to be "hurry up and wait." High-potential new drugs such as Pargluva -- to be marketed with Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation Merck (NYSE:MRK) -- and abatacept are on the Food and Drug Administration's schedule for the fall and could be on the market in early 2006. Other drugs, including belatacept and saxagliptin, are still promising but at least a year or more away from an approval decision.

Part of the "hurry up and wait" also involves the impact of losing major drugs to generics. Pravachol will go off in 2006, and the fate of Plavix is still unknown as litigation concerning Sanofi's patents (and rights to exclusivity) is under way. Obviously, losing both of these drugs in a short span of time would be painful.

At least investors can't say they're not getting paid to be patient. While Bristol-Myers continues to look toward 2007 as the target for a resumption of growth, the company pays a healthy dividend that currently yields nearly 4.5%. I believe there are more exciting near-term growth stories in the pharmaceutical world, but I can't argue with collecting a solid dividend from a company that should still have brighter days ahead.

More Foolish pharmaceutical follies follow:

Looking to collect some solid dividends of your own? Let Mathew Emmert help you find the best stocks that pay you back by taking a trial subscription of the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter.

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson owns shares of Sanofi-Aventis. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.