Hours after announcing its proposed $2.4 billion purchase of Medarex, Bristol-Myers Squibb has posted a 36% rise in earnings for the second quarter, thanks to strong sales of the bloodthinner Plavix and the antipsychotic Abilify.

Net income from continuing operations came in at $638 million, while group sales increased 3% (or 8% excluding the impact of foreign exchange) to $5.38 billion. Biopharmaceutical turnover was up 4% to $4.67 billion, driven by Plavix (clopidogrel), up 11% to $1.54 billion, while sales of Abilify (aripiprazole) shot up 22% to $643 million.

As for the firm's HIV drugs, sales of the Sustiva (efavirenz) franchise rose 11% to $312 million, and Reyataz (atazanavir) was up 2% to $331 million. Revenues from Baraclude (entecavir) for hepatitis B climbed 32% to $179 million.

As for B-MS’ newer drugs, Sprycel (dasatanib) for leukaemia rose 41% to $107 million, while Orencia (abatacept) for rheumatoid arthritis increased 40% to $148 million. On the negative side, however, the cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) fell 12% to $173 million.

Chief executive James Cornelius said that B-MS is “well on-track to continue delivering on our growth commitments”, noting that the recent deal to extend the collaboration with Otsuka to allow the New York-based firm to sell Abilify in the USA for nearly two-and-a-half years longer than expected means that “our outlook for 2013 is much improved”.

As for future deals, Mr Cornelius said on a conference call that the company will continue to acquire products and companies. Transactions in the region of $2 billion are “digestible,” and B-MS “wouldn’t rule out” deals worth $4-$6 billion, he added. The firm has raised its earnings forecast for the full year to $1.95-$2.05 per share from $1.85-$2.00, excluding non-recurring items.

The proposed acquisition of Medarex has gone down well with analysts. Catherine Arnold at Credit Suisse issued a note saying that the transaction provides B-MS with new capabilities and future royalty streams.” Part of the deal includes getting all the rights to ipilimumab, which is in Phase III for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and Ms Arnold says that if the drug proves successful, “we believe the deal will seem particularly, and strategically, smart”.