Bristol-Myers Squibb has posted a 4.2% decline in net income to $661 million due to restructuring charges that offset an impressive sales rise from the blood thinner Plavix.

The earnings included $113 million in charges as part of the firm’s “productivity transformation initiative” and $142 million in unrealised losses related to failed investments in auction rate securities.

On a positive note, group sales shot up almost 20% to $5.18 billion, helped by a major increase in sales of Plavix (clopidogrel) which soared 38.6% to $1.31 billion. Revenues from the antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) were up 24% to $454 million, while the firm's HIV drugs also made a solid contribution, with revenues from its Sustiva (efavirenz) franchise rising 21% to $273 million and Reyataz (atazanavir) was up 13% to $297 million. Sales of the cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) were up 17% to $187 million.

Regarding newer drugs, sales of Sprycel (dasatanib) for leukaemia, launched in June 2006, rose to $66 million from $21 million in the same quarter last year, while Orencia (abatacept) for rheumatoid arthritis rose 112% to $87 million. Revenues from Baraclude (entecavir) for hepatitis B increased 140% to $108 million.

On the negative side, generic competition battered sales of cholesterol-lowerer Pravachol (pravastatin), which fell 46% to $73 million, while anticancer agent Taxol (paclitaxel) was down 15% to $94 million.

IPO for Mead Johnson
B-MS also announced plans to sell approximately 10% (and no more than 20%) of its Mead Johnson Nutritionals unit through an initial public offering, thus retaining a major stake in the division which had first-quarter sales of $703 million, up 16%.

The company said that after “extensively considering strategic options”, management believes this plan will allow Mead Johnson Nutritionals to implement its growth plans, increase shareholder value “and maintain its important financial contribution to B-MS”.

The results went down well with analysts and James Kelly at Goldman Sachs issued a note saying that the broker would expect B-MS shares to have climbed higher “on this positive announcement, which exceeded consensus revenue and earnings''. He added that the announcement that the majority of Mead Johnson “will be retained, not fully divested, is also positive, as it improves the stability of cash flows through B-MS’ next patent hole in 2011-2013”.