Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) is, like, so two days ago.

The company's guidance and future direction, as presented at an analyst meeting, looked much like Merck's (NYSE:MRK) presentation from two days earlier. Eli Lilly is even considering moving into selling copycat versions of biologic drugs -- just like Merck.

Earnings are expected to come in at $4.00 to $4.25 per share next year, which isn't much higher than the adjusted EPS of $3.97 to $4.02 the company is looking for this year. Note, though, that next year's earnings are being dragged down by $0.30 to $0.35 per share thanks to remaining costs from the acquisition of ImClone.

While it'll cost Eli Lilly's investors some earnings in the near term, the company really needed to make the major acquisition. Eli Lilly will lose quite a few drugs to patent expirations between now and 2014, and ImClone's pipeline should fill in the holes quite nicely.

Whether Eli Lilly will be able to make its guidance depends a lot on whether the FDA approves delayed blood thinner prasugrel, which will compete against Sanofi-Aventis' (NYSE:SNY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE:BMY) blockbuster Plavix.

In the longer term, Eli Lilly's looking pretty good. It has 59 drugs in the clinic and expects to launch one product per year between 2009 and 2012, including Amylin Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ:AMLN) once-weekly Byetta, which now appears to be back on track for a marketing application next year and a launch the year after.

Much like Merck, the near-term prospects for Eli Lilly aren't anything to get excited about. But the pharmaceutical industry looks like a good long-term bet -- especially at these depressed prices. In the meantime, investors can enjoy their 5% yield while they wait.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.