updated 10/20/2004 6:21:52 PM ET 2004-10-20T22:21:52

Strong sales of key products drove third quarter earnings at Pfizer Inc. up 50 percent, the world's largest drug company said Wednesday.

Pfizer earned $3.34 billion, or 45 cents a share, for the July-September period, up from $2.24 billion, or 29 cents a share, in the year ago period.

Excluding charges such as the acquisition of Pharmacia and income from discontinued operations, Pfizer earnings rose 13 percent to $4.16 billion, or 55 cents per share. That beat by one cent a share the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Financial First Call.

Third quarter revenue rose 4 percent to $12.83 billion from $12.35 billion. Sales of cholesterol drug Lipitor rose 11 percent to $2.7 billion while revenue from pain reliever Celebrex grew 14 percent to $797 million.

However, impotency pill Viagra sales dropped 15 percent to $403 million because of two new competitors.

For the first nine months of the year, Pfizer earned $8.54 billion, or $1.12 a share, up from $3.31 billion, or 46 cents a share, a year earlier.

Nine-month revenue rose 22 percent to $37.59 billion from $30.75 billion a year ago.

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