US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer on Tuesday reported profit and sales fell in the fourth quarter, hit hard by the loss of exclusivity on its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.
Pfizer Inc., the world's leading drug maker, posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.4 billion, down 50 percent from the year-ago period.
Excluding exceptional items, adjusted earnings were 50 cents per share, topping the average analyst forecast of 47 cents.
Fourth-quarter revenue fell to $16.7 billion, down 4.0 percent from the year-ago period.
For the full year, Pfizer said net income rose 21 percent from the prior year to $10.0 billion on revenue up 1.0 percent to $67.4 billion.
Ian Read, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive, said that 2011 had been a year of setting a new direction for the company.
"I am pleased with our 2011 financial performance, which was achieved in the face of a challenging global market and product losses of exclusivity of approximately $5 billion."
Pfizer's US patent on the best-selling drug of all-time, the cholesterol-lowering medication Lipitor, expired on November 30, opening the path to generic competitors for America's most popular medication.
Read said the company boosted its research and development efforts, and had a "next wave of compounds that have shown promise" in the pipeline.
Lipitor came on the market in 1997, and has raked in some $100 billion for Pfizer even in a crowded market that includes various other cholesterol-lowering statins, many of which have already gone generic.
For fourth-quarter 2011, US revenues were $6.3 billion, a decline of 12 percent from a year earlier.
The share of US sales in total revenues shrank to 38 percent from 41 percent, while international revenues rose 3.0 percent to $10.4 billion.
In 2012, Read said, Pfizer plans to repurchase about $5 billion in common stock under a recently authorized $10 billion buyback program and to pay more than $6 billion in dividends.
Pfizer lowered its 2012 earnings and revenue forecasts. The company estimated earnings of $2.20-2.30 per share, from a prior range of $2.25-2.35. Revenue was seen at $60.5-62.5 billion, instead of the $62.2-64.7 previously forecast.
Pfizer shares were up 1.3 percent at $21.85 in pre-market trade.