Earnings Reports for Jan. 31

Atlanta-based UPS, which reported last month the slowing U.S. economy was cutting into its domestic package delivery volumes, said it expected earnings per share to grow 9 percent to 11 percent this year, down from a previous estimate in the "mid-teens."

The company also said revenue growth would likely fall within a range of 8 percent to 10 percent this year. Last month, it said it expected to post revenue growth of 10 percent barring further slowing in the economy.

"Our rate of growth this year will not be at the same pace as we've seen in the last few years domestically," UPS Chief Financial Officer Scott Davis said in a statement accompanying fourth-quarter financial results. "But we do expect to grow, and at a rate faster than the domestic package market."

For the three months ended Dec. 31, UPS earned $724 million, or 63 cents a share, compared to $661 million, or 56 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Analysts on average expected UPS to earn 61 cents, according to research firm First Call/Thomson Financial, which tracks consensus data.

That estimate was lowered from 64 cents last month after UPS announced that a slowdown in the U.S. economy appeared to be cutting into its holiday package volumes.

UPS' global volume — a key measure of financial health in the package delivery industry — averaged 14.7 million pieces a day in the quarter, up 3.6 percent from the same period last year.

UPS averaged volume of about 1.3 million pieces a day for its entire international service, a 13.3 percent gain from last year. Volumes for the company's U.S. domestic package business averaged about 13.5 million pieces a day, a 2.8 percent rise over the year-earlier period.

UPS, which was recently awarded a new China route, said it "remained bullish" on its international markets. BACK TO TOP

Schering-Plough Reports Healthy Earnings

Drug maker Schering-Plough said today that fourth-quarter profits rose 13 percent, in line with estimates, on strong sales of its allergy drug Claritin and its Rebetron therapy for Hepatitis C.

The Kenilworth, N.J.-headquartered firm said it earned $571 million, or 39 cents per share in the quarter, compared with $506 million, or 34 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Schering-Plough was expected to earn 39 cents a share during the quarter, said First Call/Thomson Financial, which compiles securities analysts' profit expectations.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 6 percent to $2.4 billion from $2.3 billion a year ago.

U.S. pharmaceutical sales rose 11 percent to $1.3 billion.

The company said Claritin sales rose 15 percent in the quarter to $662 million, while Rebetron sales grew 9 percent to $324 million.

Global fourth-quarter sales of the company's nasal-inhaled asthma drugs, led by Nasonex, jumped 12 percent to $151 million. Its anti-clotting drug Integrilin saw sales of $50 million, up from $20 million in the 1999 quarter.

Sales of Remicade for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's Disease were $21 million in the quarter, compared with $6 million in the year-ago period.

Claritin is scheduled to lose its U.S. marketing exclusivity next year — an event which would usher in competition from cheaper generics. It is awaiting U.S. marketing approval for a closely related compound, desloratadine, that the company claims is superior to Claritin.

Schering-Plough received approval on Monday, Jan. 22, for a longer-acting version of its Intron-A treatment for hepatitis C.

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