05 March 2003 22:02 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--US drug giant Schering-Plough (S-P) drastically lowered its 2003 earnings/share (eps) estimates Wednesday, citing declining over-the-counter (OTC) Claritin sales.
Kenilworth, New Jersey-based S-P said it expects 2003 eps to be in the 75-85 cent range, down from $1-1.15 previously forecast.
Shares of S-P fell 3.1% or 53 cents to $16.60 in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange. That's just above the company's 52-year low of $16.10/share.
S-P said it expects first quarter eps to be about 10 cents. According to Thomson Financial/First Call, analysts had been expecting eps of 25 cents.
Schering-Plough added it is withdrawing any previous earnings guidance.
In a statement, Schering-Plough said 2003 will mark a transition for the company with previous leading franchise - prescription drug antihistamine Claritin - now switched to OTC status.
The company said the immediate financial impact will be sharply negative in 2003 and particularly pronounced in the first quarter. The lost Claritin revenue as well as the market introduction of cholesterol drug Zetia will negatively affect full year financial results, the company said.
Added S-P: "The company also is facing new competition in the hepatitis C category in major markets and, as previously reported, is anticipating the possibility of generic ribavirin competitors in the US in 2003.
Schering-Plough is engaged in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products.
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