US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, despite pressure from generic drugs, Tuesday reported better-than-expected earnings following strong sales of oncology drugs and some other medications.
Pfizer, which has faced patent expirations for sexual-dysfunction drug Viagra and other best-sellers, said second-quarter earnings were $2.9 billion. That was a decline of more than 79 percent from a year ago, when profits were boosted largely by a $10.4 billion one-time gain.
Adjusted earnings translated into 58 cents per share, a penny above analyst expectations.
Revenues slipped 1.5 percent to $12.77 billion, better than the $12.47 billion projected by analysts.
"Overall, I am pleased with our second-quarter 2014 financial results despite the continued negative impact from product losses of exclusivity and the termination of certain co-promotion collaborations," said Pfizer chief financial officer Frank D'Amelio in a statement.
Most of Pfizer's top-selling drugs notched higher revenues compared with a year ago, including painkiller Lyrica, which jumped 16 percent to $1.3 billion.
Revenues also rose for anti-inflammatory Celebrex and were essentially flat for anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor. But analysts noted many of Pfizer's best-sellers are on borrowed time.
"The bad news is that most of these products (Lipitor, Celebrex and Lyrica) will face near-term or continued generic erosion and as such are not sustainable growth drivers for Pfizer," said BMO Capital Markets.
Pfizer scored a 14 percent rise in global vaccines revenues and a 16 percent jump in global oncology revenues.
Company executives also pointed to progress in the company's development pipeline, such as breast-cancer drug palbociclib, which BMO expects will win US regulatory approval by mid-2015.
Pfizer chairman and chief executive Ian Read told analysts in a conference call that the drugmaker continues to seek acquisition targets after British competitor AstraZeneca repeatedly rejected a deal earlier this year.
"On M&A (mergers and acquisitions), we look and continue to look at a very wide spectrum of M&A transactions," Read said. "We will continue to look very broadly at deploying our capital in a way that makes sense for shareholder return."
Read said Pfizer would "absolutely" explore deals that could enable the company to pay lower taxes by relocating its fiscal headquarters overseas. President Barack Obama and other US officials have sharply criticized these transactions, known as "inversions."
Read said Pfizer advocates "fundamental" tax reform in Washington.
"We believe the tax system... puts American companies at a disadvantage and we would like to see the tax system reformed," he said.
Read declined to comment on any future talks with AstraZeneca. Some analysts have said Pfizer could revive its campaign later this year.
Dow component Pfizer dipped 0.3 percent in midday trade to $30.02.