It continues to be a tough season for MedImmune (NASDAQ:MEDI), which said today that its earnings will be lower than expected for the first quarter and for the year. Following a less-than-successful launch of the FluMist influenza vaccine, the company reduced expectations, saying it plans to increase research and development expenditures.

First-quarter earnings will come in at $0.40 to $0.43 per share, much lower than the $0.54 per share analysts were expecting. Revenues are anticipated to come in between $485 million and $510 million. For fiscal 2004, MedImmune sees earnings of $0.50 to $0.60 per share, as compared to the expectation of $0.94 per share. Revenues are expected to come in between $1.12 billion and $1.16 billion.

Back in January, things were looking sickly for FluMist. The flu season was such a wash-out for the no-stick vaccine that MedImmune and partner Wyeth (NYSE:WYE) not only cut prices but reportedly gave it away in some cases.

As it stands, FluMist will not contribute "meaningfully" to revenue growth, according to the company's conference call (transcript courtesy of CCBN StreetEvents). MedImmune also said the vaccine is now considered to be a phase 3 project.

Going forward, MedImmune hopes to expand FluMist's label to include children and older folks. The biotech is also banking on approval of its refrigerated version -- an improvement to the current frozen vaccine -- by the 2007 flu season. So it sounds like in a couple years, we'll be hearing about FluMist, part deux.

Revenue growth of the company's flagship Synagis product seems to be slowing, too, with expected growth of 10% this year after 27% growth in 2003. The company said the drug is maturing, after six years on the market and nearly $1 billion in sales.

However, MedImmune boasts an active pipeline, predicting three new drug applications a year for 2004, 2005, and 2006. It anticipates earnings per share to double by 2007 to roughly $1.00 to $1.10 per share. Revenues are expected to generate $2 billion by 2009.

MedImmune shares have taken quite a beating over the high-profile flameout of FluMist. Today, the stock sank by 10.5% at one point, marking a 45% decrease from its yearly high. Long-term prospects may be appealing, if it gains approval for some of the drugs in the pipeline. However, considering past overly zealous expectations, there's good reason for continued caution.

Some people think now that the FluMist glitz and hype is history, it's time to invest in MedImmune for the long haul. Do you agree? Talk to other Fools on the MedImmune discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She thinks shots stink. However, if she had gotten a flu vaccine this year, she would have taken the pain over the high-priced alternative.