Shares in Eli Lilly climbed 3.7% after the US major said it expects profits  to rise in 2003, despite present and looming patent expiries to key drugs.

Lilly says that earnings per share for 2013 should be in the region of $3.75-$3.90 per share excluding items, up from $3.30-$3.40 in 2012 and up on analyst estimates. Earnings for this year will be boosted by an R&D tax credit in the USA that was not recognised in 2012.

The company forecasts revenues of $22.60-$23.40 billion, roughly the same as last year, despite the initial impact of US patent loss on its antidepressant/fibromyalgia blockbuster Cymbalta (duloxetine) starting in December 2013. It is also losing out on a 15% royalty on worldwide sales of  diabetes treatment Byetta (exenatide) and the long-acting version Bydureon, after Lilly's deal with Amylin ended.

Lilly says its current portfolio will make up those losses and it expects significant revenue growth in Japan and the emerging markets, especially China. Chief executive John Lechleiter said "we are replenishing and advancing our pipeline, which now has 13 potential new medicines in Phase III" and investing to drive growth in key currently marketed brands and in our counter-cyclical growth areas".

He added that "we continue to make productivity gains across our business to fund the R&D necessary to fuel our future growth, recapitalise our physical assets, maintain our dividend and support our share repurchase programme". Chief financial officer Derica Rice added that "from now through 2014, on an annual basis we still expect revenue to be at least $20 billion, net income to be at least $3 billion, and operating cash flow to be at least $4 billion".