Forest Laboratories’ share price hit a new 52-week low on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange yesterday after the firm said that it expected its earnings for the fourth quarter, which ended in March, would be lower than current guidance. The company cited reduced inventory levels and a general slowdown in the antidepressant market as key factors behind its financial revision, leading to a 12% slump in its share price, which is now languishing around the $33.51 mark – versus a year-high of $75.40 back in April last year.

The company, which has already cut its outlook for 2005 on the back of generic competition to its top-selling antidepressant, Celexa (citalopram) [[02/11/04e]], also said that net sales for the quarter would be approximately $614 million dollars, compared to $795 million in the third quarter of the year [[19/01/05d]]. Diluted earnings per share are projected to be around $0.40 before a special charge in the quarter of $91 million relating to the repatriation of over $1.2 billion under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, which has hit many pharmaceutical companies’ financials.

Although Forest claims that Lexapro (escitalopram), its follow-up to Celexa, is increasing its share of the market, sales of the drug are forecast to come in at around $400 million, versus $427 million in the previous quarter. Sales of Namenda (memantine) for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s amounted to approximately $93 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $100 million in the third quarter.

Forest plans to reveal its final fourth-quarter and full-year financial results on 19 April.