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Pfizer Posts Unexpected Fourth-Quarter Gain
Reuters
Pfizer Inc. on Tuesday said strong sales of its leading drugs and revenues from divestitures of its medical device businesses lifted profits to $634 million in the fourth quarter of 1998, up 14 percent from the 1997 quarter.

The New York-based drug company best known for its anti-impotence pill Viagra said 1998 fourth-quarter profits, excluding unusual items, jumped 42 percent to $711 million — or 54 cents per diluted share. That is two cents higher than the consensus forecast of analysts polled by First Call.

Pfizer said overall fourth-quarter revenues rose 26 percent to almost $3.9 billion, adding that growth would have been 2 percentage points higher if not for the strong U.S. dollar which depressed the value of overseas sales.

Year-over-year global pharmaceutical sales jumped 31 percent to about $3.4 billion, while U.S. drug revenues bounded 38 percent higher to $2.06 billion, the company said.

Viagra, launched in April 1998, contributed much of the growth. It had fourth-quarter global sales of $236 million and 1998 sales of $788 million. Sales of hypertension drug Norvasc jumped 15 percent to $719 million, while those of Pfizer's newer broad-spectrum antibiotic Zithromax surged 42 percent to $379 million in the quarter.

On an unfavorable note, Pfizer said fourth-quarter sales for its animal health segment slipped 3 percent to $385 million. And sales of its consumer health-care group eased 2 percent to $94 million, though the segment would have shown a 6 percent rise if not for the foreign currency drag.

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