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Bristol cuts forecast, new blood clot drug struggles

By Ransdell Pierson

(Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co cut its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts and posted disappointing sales of its new drug to prevent blood clots and its once-weekly Bydureon diabetes drug.

Eliquis, the blood clot drug, eked out second-quarter global sales of $12 million, the company said on Thursday, following highly disappointing U.S. sales of $17 million in the first quarter. Investors have counted on the drug to be one of the company's biggest engines of sales growth.

"Today's emphasis will likely be on disappointing Eliquis and Bydureon sales," Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez said, adding they suggested "challenges" for Bristol-Myers and partners that sell the drugs to primary care doctors.

Bydureon, acquired through Bristol's recent purchase of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, posted quarterly sales of $66 million, almost $50 million below Fernandez's forecast. He said the injectable drug is facing tough competition from Novo Nordisk's Victoza, and warned new rivals will emerge in the next few years.

Eliquis, which Bristol-Myers sells in partnership with Pfizer Inc, was approved by U.S. regulators in late December to prevent strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat most common among the elderly.

Studies have suggested Eliquis is the best among a crop of new oral medicines meant to replace warfarin, the standard oral stroke-prevention treatment for a half century that has dietary restrictions and requires frequent blood tests to avert potentially dangerous bleeding.

"The Eliquis numbers will trigger quite a few downgrades of Bristol-Myers" by Wall Street analysts, Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Purkiss predicted.

Purkiss said Bristol-Myers and Pfizer apparently failed to recognize how much investment was needed to promote Eliquis. It competes with Xarelto, from Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson and approved in November 2011.

It also competes with Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa, a new anti-clot pill that works through a different mechanism. Pradaxa posted sales of $1.43 billion in 2012, its second year on the market.

LOW TAX RATE HELPS

Bristol-Myers said it earned $536 million, or 32 cents per share, in the second quarter. That compared with $645 million, or 38 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Excluding special items, including combined charges of $274 million for restructuring and pension settlements, Bristol-Myers earned 44 cents per share, matching analysts' estimates in a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fernandez said a lower-than-expected tax rate was the primary reason the "low quality" second-quarter results met Wall Street expectations.

Global revenue fell 9 percent to $4.05 billion, in line with Wall Street targets. The decline was fueled by generic competition for its Plavix blood clot preventer and Avapro blood pressure treatment.

The company trimmed its full-year 2013 profit forecast to between $1.70 and $1.78 per share from its earlier view of $1.78 to $1.88.

Bristol-Myers also lowered its full-year sales forecast to between $16 billion and $16.5 billion from its prior view of $16.2 to $17.2 billion.

The stock rose 0.7 percent to $44.92 on mid-morning trade.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Maureen Bavdek and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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