Eli Lilly 2013 profit forecast tops expectations

by Tom Murphy

(AP)—Eli Lilly and Co. said Friday its 2013 earnings will grow more than Wall Street expects, even though the drugmaker will lose U.S. patent protection for two more key products this year.

The company said it expects 2013 adjusted earnings of between $3.75 and $3.90 per share on $22.6 billion to $23.4 billion in revenue.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $3.72 per share on $22.87 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Lilly's revenue slipped last year after it lost U.S. for its all-time best selling drug, the antipsychotic Zyprexa. That exposed a drug that once topped $5 billion in annual revenue to cheaper .

This year, Lilly loses patent protection for its best-selling insulin, Humalog, in May and the antidepressant in December.

Cymbalta replaced Zyprexa as Lilly's top seller. Cymbalta and Humalog combined to generate about 44 percent of Lilly's roughly $8.7 billion in U.S. sales through the first nine months of 2012.

Lilly has said it will counter the revenue loss from the patent expirations by developing , cutting costs and depending on sales in foreign markets and developing countries. The drugmaker reiterated that it expects at least $3 billion in net income and revenue of at least $20 billion through 2014.

It also expects to keep paying shareholders a dividend and to complete a $1.5 billion share repurchase program this year.

The company reports fourth-quarter and 2012 results on Jan. 29.

Company shares climbed 53 cents to $49.72 Friday before trading started. The stock rose 19 percent in 2012 to close the year at $49.32.

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