Sales climbed 14% (12% net of foreign exchange) to $4.6 billion, based largely upon the strength of the company's pharmaceutical business (up 16%). With better operating margins (and the exclusion of some one-time items), net income grew nearly 28% to more than $1 billion.
Effexor was once again the most significant drug for Wyeth in the quarter. Sales climbed 12% to $868 million versus the year-ago period as the company rebounded from a weak fourth quarter. Although the depression drug market has matured and rapid growth is no longer realistic, Effexor remains a popular drug, and many physicians use it as their "backup of choice" when treating depression.
While Effexor recovered from a disappointing fourth quarter, Protonix did not, and sales were basically flat at $409 million compared with last year's first quarter. Elsewhere, the company saw good growth in sales of Enbrel (sold in a partnership with Amgen
Wyeth got priority review status from the FDA back in January for Tygacil, and this first-in-class antibiotic still has blockbuster potential. Elsewhere in the pipeline, the company is close to submissions of products in women's health, cancer, autoimmune disease, and neurology that all have meaningful sales potential.
Wyeth investors can also take heart that the company did not see the need to increase its reserves for its diet drug litigation. What's more, the company is cautiously optimistic that a streamlined process could soon be in place for dealing with smaller claims.
Although Wyeth does have some mature products such as Effexor and Protonix, it is seeing increasing contributions from new products. Assuming that FDA approvals come through for late-stage pipeline candidates, Wyeth should be looking at some good growth potential in the next few years. With much of the company's legal trouble in the past, big pharma investors might see Wyeth as one of the more interesting growth and turnaround candidates in the industry.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).