updated 1/19/2005 8:14:00 AM ET 2005-01-19T13:14:00

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. said Wednesday that excluding items, its fourth-quarter earnings rose 16 percent year-over-year as the company's Lipitor drug continued to achieve double-digit revenue growth.

Net income rose to $2.83 billion, or 38 cents per share, from $602 million, or 8 cents per share, last year. Excluding items, Pfizer's earnings grew 16 percent to $4.39 billion, or 58 cents per share, in the latest quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were looking for Pfizer to report profit of 59 cents per share on sales of $14.05 billion in the latest quarter.

Revenue grew 7 percent to $14.92 billion from $13.98 billion last year, driven by good performances by Lipitor and a number of other product lines and by the weakening of the U.S. dollar relative to other foreign currencies. This growth was offset in part by recent generic competition to drugs Diflucan, Neurontin and Accupril.

"While Pfizer's revenue and income growth will likely be tempered in the near term due to patent expirations and other factors, the company will continue to make the investments necessary to sustain strong longer-term growth, the prospects for which remain excellent," said Chief Financial Officer David Shedlarz. The company expects to provide more specific information on Pfizer's financial expectations for 2005 at its analyst meeting planned for April 5.

For fiscal 2004, the company reported profit of $11.36 billion, or $1.49 per share, up from $3.91 billion, or 54 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding items, Pfizer posted profit of $16.14 billion, or $2.12 per share, in the latest full-year period.

Revenue grew 17 percent to $52.52 billion from $44.74 billion last year, driven by strong performances across a range of products, the inclusion of results of legacy Pharmacia products for the full year, and foreign exchange rates.

Analysts were expecting Pfizer to report profit of $2.13 per share on sales of $51.79 billion in fiscal 2004.

Pfizer shares closed Tuesday at $25.30, but rose 80 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $26.05 in premarket activity on the New York Stock Exchange.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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