Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, said third-quarter earnings plunged 52 percent on lower sales of its Celebrex painkiller and Neurontin epilepsy drug.

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Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, said third-quarter earnings plunged 52 percent on lower sales of its Celebrex painkiller and Neurontin epilepsy drug. Pfizer shares posted their biggest decline this year.

Net income declined to $1.59 billion, or 22 cents a share, after acquisition costs, from $3.34 billion, or 44 cents, a year earlier, Pfizer said yesterday. Revenue fell for the first time in four years.

Demand for Celebrex dropped 44 percent after U.S. regulators added a warning of heart risks to the drug’s label. Neurontin fell 80 percent as cheaper generic products became available this year.

Pfizer said U.S. sales of Lipitor rose only 1 percent, reflecting an “unexpectedly rapid slowdown” in demand and increased competition.

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Pfizer’s quarterly revenue fell by 5 percent to $12.2 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $12.5 billion.

Shares of Pfizer, one of the 30 Dow industrials, dropped $2.07 to $21.90 yesterday.

McDonald’s

Stock price sinks as earnings slip 6%

McDonald’s third-quarter earnings slipped 6 percent and its stock price also sank yesterday after the fast-food chain said higher beef prices and labor costs had hurt its operating margins.

The earnings were in line with those the company previewed last week, when it disclosed profit figures above Wall Street forecasts, thanks in part to improved sales in Europe. But analysts were disappointed in the weaker operating margins. Shares of McDonald’s, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell $1.28 at $32.40 yesterday.

“Now that we’re able to dive below the surface, the quality of the earnings surprise that they reported last week isn’t that impressive,” said David Kolpak of Victory Capital Management, which holds about 4 million McDonald’s shares. “They did it with a little bit lower tax rate than the Street was expecting and they had higher gains on the sale of stores.”

Net earnings for July-through-September fell to $735 million, or 58 cents a share, from $778 million, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier. The results included a gain of 2 cents per share related to the transfer of McDonald’s stake in an international market to a developmental licensee.

Earnings matched the Wall Street consensus estimate based on a survey of analysts, who revised their numbers after McDonald’s said it would top the initial forecast of 54 cents per share.

Coca-Cola

China, Japan sales help boost profits

Coca-Cola, which suffered in the past from uneven execution and an exodus of top-level officials, said yesterday its turnaround is working amid a 37 percent jump in third-quarter profit on strong sales in China and Japan. Weak spots were Germany and India.

Coca-Cola said it earned $1.28 billion, or 54 cents a share, for the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to a profit of $935 million, or 39 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, Coke said it earned $1.36 billion, or 57 cents a share, in the third quarter. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 53 cents a share in the third quarter.

Revenue in the July-September period rose 8 percent to $6.04 billion, compared to revenue of $5.60 billion in the same period a year ago.

Shares of Coca Cola, a Dow industrial, rose 30 cents to close at $42.10 yesterday.

SBC Communications

3rd-quarter profit down 40% from ’04

SBC Communications said yesterday that third-quarter profit fell 40 percent from a year ago when it sold Midwestern directory operations and as it continued to absorb costs related to the acquisition of AT&T Wireless Services.

The nation’s No. 2 local phone company reported net income of $1.25 billion, or 38 cents a share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from $2.1 billion, or 63 cents, in the 2004 quarter. Revenue was $10.3 billion, the same as a year ago.

SBC also said it cut about 3,100 jobs in the quarter, bringing to 8,000 the number it has cut this year in a continuing effort to control costs. It said it will eliminate up to 2,000 more positions by year-end.

Excluding costs in the quarter, SBC earned 47 cents per share. Wall Street had expected earnings of 41 cents per share, the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

SBC said it had $149 million in merger-related charges and $96 million in hurricane damages at Cingular Wireless, its joint venture with BellSouth. Cingular agreed to buy Redmond-based AT&T Wireless in October 2004.

Shares of SBC, one of the 30 Dow industrials, rose 13 cents to close at $22.54 yesterday.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News