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WARNER-LAMBERT EXPECTS DOUBLE DIGIT EPS GAIN FOR 1993

 NEW YORK, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Warner-Lambert Company (NYSE: WLA) today reaffirmed that it expects to achieve a double-digit earnings per share (EPS) gain in 1993, based on its current planning assumptions.
 Melvin R. Goodes, chairman and CEO, told security analysts here, "While recognizing the current uncertain environment for health care companies, our goal for 1993 remains a double digit increase in earnings per share. Our longer term goal will be to grow the top and bottom lines at double digit rates."
 On Monday, the company reported sales and earnings for the first quarter. On an as reported basis, EPS and net income each increased by 11 percent, EPS to $1.35 a share and net income to $182 million. Worldwide sales increased 2 percent -- 4 percent at constant currency rates -- to $1.31 billion. Excluding the impact of new accounting methods and a charge associated with repositioning the company's Novon Products Group, EPS was ahead by 10 percent to $1.34.
 Reviewing the company's growth prospects, Goodes said Warner-Lambert is making progress toward the three-pronged strategy, enunciated a year ago, which calls for new initiatives, new products and new alliances. In particular, he pointed to alliances forged in recent weeks, which together represent a "concerted effort to strengthen our core businesses in Europe." These steps include:


-- completion of the acquisition of Adams S.p.A. (Alivar), creating
 the second largest confectionery operation in Italy;


-- formation of a research-based alliance with Jouveinal, wherein
 Warner-Lambert acquired a 34 percent interest in the French
 pharmaceutical firm. The initiative gives the company access to
 Jouveinal's promising drug portfolio, especially those aimed
 at gastrointestinal and central nervous system illnesses; and


-- acquisition of most of Wilkinson Sword's wet shave business,
 which in the first year will make a small but positive
 contribution to earnings. Combined with Warner-Lambert's Schick
 line, the acquisition creates a $500 million global wet shave
 business. Moreover, it provides instant access to markets such
 as the U.K. and Germany -- where the company will now have a
 "springboard" to launch its entire product line.
 Goodes said additional business-building agreements have been signed recently with Alza Corp. for the development of new dosage forms for Dilantin and Cognex and with Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals of Boulder, Colo., for the development of novel anti-arthritis compounds. The Alza agreement covers development of a once-daily dosage form for Dilantin, and oral once-daily, transdermal and other dosage forms for Cognex.
 Regarding the business environment, Goodes said that while the drive to reform health care and the U.S. tax system would have "dramatic implications for our businesses," Warner-Lambert is nonetheless "prepared for the likely scenarios." Goodes said efforts to globalize the business, initiated two years ago, were undertaken to "reflect the new realities of worldwide trade."
 He added that streamlining operations, a process begun at the same time, would ultimately generate pre-tax savings of more than $1 billion.
 Initiatives related to the second strategic prong -- new product development -- reflect "our confidence in our revitalized research function," Goodes said. Among pharmaceuticals, Goodes cited innovative products such as Cognex for Alzheimer's and Neurontin for epilepsy, both of which have been recommended for approval recently by an FDA advisory committee. He said those two new products and three more -- the congestive heart failure (CHF) drug Manoplax, the smoking cessation patch Nicotrol and the cardiovascular drug Accupril -- would drive Pharmaceutical Sector growth. He added that Accupril, now marketed in some 40 countries and recently recommended by an FDA advisory committee for a CHF claim, was well on its way to becoming a $250 million product worldwide.
 Among consumer health products, Goodes noted the strength of Cool Mint Listerine in the U.S and overseas. In confectioneries, the company's innovative gum-making technology has helped put Cinn A Burst among the fastest growing stick gums in the U.S. and a likely candidate to eventually exceed $100 million in worldwide sales.
 Goodes reminded analysts that the company -- ranked 72d among the Fortune 500 over the past decade in total return to shareholders -- is committed to building shareholder value. Illustrative of that pledge, he said the company would invest nearly $500 million in R&D and more than $1.2 billion in advertising and promotion during 1993.
 As a service to shareholders, Goodes pointed out that the company continues to increase its dividend, most recently in January, when a 12 percent boost brought the dividend yield to 3.1 percent. Goodes also signalled the company's intention to reinstate a share repurchase program. He said that under the current repurchase program the company had bought back approximately 32 million shares on a post-split basis, with approximately four million shares available for repurchase under the current authorization. "As an adjunct to our recent external moves, we believe this to be a sound investment," he remarked.
 Goodes said the company's core businesses face "unprecedented challenges and change." Referring to the recent repositioning of the Novon Products Group, he said, "with that in mind we made a business decision to dedicate all of our resources to those product lines that have helped make us a Fortune 100 company." He explained that the company's sharper focus had prompted the decision to seek investors to assist in leveraging Novon's promising prospects into a fully commercialized venture.
 Warner-Lambert is a worldwide company devoted to discovering, developing, manufacturing and marketing quality health care and consumer products. It employs approximately 35,000 people. In 1992 the company had worldwide sales of $5.6 billion, EPS of $4.78 and net income of $644 million.
 -0- 4/21/93
 /CONTACT: Peter Wolf, 201-540-6696, or Lisa Wilder, 201-540-2145 (media); and Stephen Mock, 201-540-6916, or Cary Rosansky, 201-540-4874 (investors), all of Warner-Lambert/
 (WLA)


CO: Warner-Lambert Company ST: New Jersey IN: MTC SU: ERP

SB -- NY089 -- 8913 04/21/93 16:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 21, 1993
Words:963
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