BMS posts improved year-on-year Q4, but still sees a loss

NEW YORK Bristol-Myers Squibb posted a better fourth quarter this year than last, but still lost money and the company is saying 2008 will be even worse, according to published reports.

The company posted a net loss of $89 million compared to a loss of $134 million last year. Fourth-quarter sales climbed 33 percent to $5.38 billion from $4.06 billion a year earlier. Bristol-Myers’ top drug, anti-blood-clotting Plavix, saw sales nearly triple to $1.37 billion from $496 million a year earlier, when it was exposed to generic competition. Bristol-Myers co-markets Plavix with Sanofi-Aventis.

Bristol-Myers’ cancer drug Erbitux sales rose 11 percent to $185 million; Bristol-Myers co-developed the drug with ImClone Systems. Abilify, an antipsychotic that Bristol co-promotes with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals posted a 28 percent sales increase to $462 million.

Last month, Bristol-Myers announced a cost-savings plan that entails cutting about 10 percent of its work force and closing about half of its manufacturing plants.

Bristol-Myers lowered its forecast for 2008 earnings excluding items by a nickel to a range of $1.60 to $1.70 per share. Analysts’ mean estimate was for 2008 earnings of $1.71 per share.

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