It looks like Wyeth
After the bell yesterday, the company commented "on the significant difference between its 2005 first quarter business trends and the current First Call mean analyst estimate."
The drugmaker said that its first-quarter earnings per share would be in the mid- to upper $0.70 range or higher, substantially ahead of the analyst earnings estimate of $0.67 per share. The forecast is on a pro forma basis, before expensing stock options.
Now in general, I'd prefer that a company not focus so much on what analysts are looking for, but Wyeth does get points for communication and creativity, and for getting directly to the point -- a rarity in the land of earnings releases and accompanying comments.
On a conference call with analysts, CFO Kenneth Martin said that the company expects first-quarter revenues to be significantly stronger than last year, "and perhaps even a little bit stronger" than anticipated. That's exciting news for investors, and the stock has responded with a gain of several percentage points.
Martin pointed to particularly strong sales of Prevnar -- a vaccine to protect infants from pneumococcal bacteria -- as well as the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel, which the company shares with Amgen
Martin also noted that even just a "more normalized level of reported sales" would represent a relatively strong quarter for the antidepressant Effexor. Sales of the drug slackened last year due to de-stocking by wholesale customers in the U.S.
In addition, the company cited favorable exchange rates and "other factors" for its outperformance.
Interestingly, even though Wyeth felt stronger than expected regarding its first quarter, the company merely reaffirmed its full-year forecast of pro forma earnings of $2.70 to $2.80 per share. However, the company did say in a press release that if sales remained strong, full-year earnings could come in the upper range of that estimate.
Martin said that third-quarter earnings would be around the analyst estimate of $0.73 per share -- down from last year's $0.75 per share stub -- as the company planned to raise the level of R&D spending from $525 million in the third quarter of 2004 to closer to a quarterly run rate of $700 million. The company offered no comment on the second and fourth quarters, as its view isn't materially different from the analyst estimates.
Good enough, but how does all this mesh with Wyeth's big picture for investors? To learn more on that, check out:
- Wyeth Keeps Producing
- 5 Drugs to Worry About?
- Muscle in Wyeth's Pipeline
- Worries for Wyeth
- Waiting for Wyeth
Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns none of the companies mentioned above.