updated 1/19/2006 8:27:07 AM ET 2006-01-19T13:27:07

Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drugmaker, said Thursday that fourth-quarter profit fell about 3 percent as sales retreated from year-ago levels, but the company beat Wall Street estimates after excluding one-time charges.

Net income declined to $2.73 billion, or 37 cents per share, for the October-December period from $2.83 billion, or 38 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding one-time charges, the company reported earnings from continuing operations of $3.77 billion, or 51 cents per share, for the latest quarter.

Revenue fell 9 percent to $13.59 billion from $14.92 billion last year, with worldwide sales of the blockbuster cholesterol reducer Lipitor rising 3 percent to $3.36 billion from a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had estimated fourth-quarter earnings at 42 cents per share on revenue of $13.16 billion. The estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Global sales of high blood pressure treatment Norvasc slipped 1 percent to $1.24 billion, while worldwide sales of epilepsy treatment Neurontin fell 71 percent to $141 million, and sales of arthritis treatment Celebrex dropped 53 percent to $472 million. Sales of impotence treatment Viagra dropped 8 percent to $430 million, and sales of antidepressant Zoloft fell 16 percent to $808 million.

Restructuring and merger-related costs grew by 28 percent to $596 million in the quarter.

For the full year, the company posted net income of $8.09 billion, or $1.09 per share, down from $11.36 billion, or $1.49 per share, last year. Excluding one-time charges, the company reported earnings from continuing operations of $15 billion, or $2.02 per share. Revenue fell 2 percent to $51.3 billion from $52.52 billion last year.

Analysts forecast earnings per share of $1.93 on revenue of $50.98 billion.

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