Shares of drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. edged higher Tuesday, after the company reported a better fourth quarter than analysts expected, with stronger sales of key drugs.
Lilly reported an adjusted profit of 90 cents per share on revenue growth of 22 percent to $5.19 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected 89 cents per share on $4.81 billion in sales.
The stock gained $1.35, or 2.6 percent, to $52.75 in morning trading.
Goldman Sachs analyst James Kelly said sales of anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa, chemotherapy drug Gemzar, antidepressant Cymbalta, insulin drugs Humalog and Humulin, and osteoporosis treatment Evista all surpassed his estimates.
Sales of Zyprexa, the company's top drug by revenue, increased 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006, to $1.24 billion. The strongest growth came from Cymbalta sales, which improved 48 percent to $628.3 million.
Kelly kept a "Neutral" rating on the stock, as did Banc of America analyst Chris Schott. Schott predicted that the stock will stay in the mid-$50 range through 2008, because it will be a year or two until the company can provide more trial data for the most important drugs in its pipeline, and investors are waiting for a Food and Drug Administration ruling on Lilly's anti-clotting drug candidate prasugrel.
Fifteen analysts have a "Neutral" rating on Lilly stock, while four give a "Buy"-equivalent rating and two a "Sell" rating.