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Pfizer 4th-quarter profit falls

/ Source: The Associated Press

Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug maker, said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit fell 70 percent from a year-ago period that included the sale of the company's consumer health business, but adjusted profit topped Wall Street expectations.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, net income fell to $2.88 billion, or 42 cents per share, from $9.45 billion, or $1.32 per share, a year ago, which included divestiture gains of $1.11 per share. Excluding items, net income in the latest period totaled $3.6 billion, or 52 cents per share.

Revenue climbed 4 percent to $13.07 billion from $12.60 billion in the 2006 period, as international sales — buoyed by the weaker dollar — helped offset the loss of patent protection on blood pressure drug Norvasc and antidepressant Zoloft. Sales of blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug, rose 3 percent to $3.4 billion, as the weaker dollar helped offset slower U.S. sales.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial, on average, forecast fourth-quarter profit of 47 cents per share on $12.19 billion in revenue.

The company raised its outlook for 2008 revenue to a range of $47 billion to $49 billion, from a range of $46.5 billion to $48.5 billion previously. It also forecast adjusted earnings per share of $2.35 to $2.45 for the year.

Wall Street has forecast fiscal 2008 revenue of $47.12 billion and earnings per share of $2.34.