Bristol-Myers Squibb managed to beat forecasts for its third-quarter performance on the back of stronger-than-expected revenues for the period.

The US drugs giant posted earnings of $721 million, or $0.43 a share, versus $692 million, or $0.42 per share, a year ago. Adjusted for special items, profit came in at $0.45 a share, comfortably overshooting the average estimate of $0.41 a share by analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Sales of $3.9 billion, though down 4% on last year, also managed to beat Wall Street forecasts of $3.8 billion, on a solid turnout for many of the firm’s key medicines. In fact, excluding the divested Diabetes Alliance, global revenues actually grew a respectable 7%.

Turnover of the cancer drug Yervoy (ipilimumab) leapt 47% to $350 million, rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia (abatacept) jumped 18% to $444 million, and leukaemia treatment Sprycel (dasatanib) was up 22% at $385 million. Sales of bloodthinner Eliquis (apixaban) rocketed from $41 million in the third quarter of 2013 to $216 million.

“Our financial results in the third quarter reflect our continued focus on balancing long-term growth with short-term performance, as we achieved significant progress in our pipeline and saw strong in-market performance for key products including Eliquis, Yervoy, Sprycel and Orencia,” said Lamberto Andreotti, B-MS chief executive. “We continue to build a solid foundation for our future as a Diversified Specialty BioPharma by advancing our own R&D efforts and investing in strategic business development to build a sustainable pipeline,” he added.