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Lunesta sales rouse Sepracor shares

DreamWorks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg sees green with and from Shrek, as company profits quadrupled in the third quarter to $47 million. DreamWorks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg sees green with and from Shrek, as company profits quadrupled in the third quarter to $47 million. (Jacques Brinon/Associated Press/File 2007)


Sepracor Inc., the maker of the sleeping pill Lunesta, rose the most in more than a year in Nasdaq trading after the company said it would trim as much as $100 million in 2008 by firing employees and reducing expenses.

Sepracor said it plans to eliminate 300 sales positions, though the company said one-third of the jobs are already vacant and few Massachusetts workers will be affected. In addition, Sepracor said it will to go forward with plans to expand its Marlborough offices. In September, the company said it plans to build 150,000-square-foot building next to its existing headquarters.

Net income dropped to $42.9 million in the third quarter, or 37 cents a share, from $64.4 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier, Sepracor said. Earnings beat the 26-cent average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Revenue slipped 1.8 percent to $283.9 million. Sales of Lunesta in the quarter rose 14 percent to $160.9 million, while inhaled Xopenex fell 25 percent to $94.4 million after Medicaid, the US health program for the elderly, lowered the drug's reimbursement rates. (Bloomberg)

Sun Life streak hits eight quarters


Sun Life Financial Inc., Canada's third-largest life insurer, which has its US base in Wellesley, said profit rose for the eighth straight quarter as higher stock prices increased fees at its Canadian and US mutual fund businesses. The stock had its biggest one-day gain in more than three years.

Third-quarter net income climbed 6.7 percent to $603.6 million, or $1.05 a share, from $567.5 million, or 98 cents, a year earlier, the Toronto-based company said.

Sun Life owns Boston-based money manager MFS Investment Management and a stake in CI Financial Income Fund, Canada's second-biggest mutual fund company.

Excluding one-time items such as costs for retiring the Clarica brand name in Canada, profit was $1.06 a share. That compares with the $1.03-a-share average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Earnings from MFS Investment rose 17 percent to $71.3 million, while US insurance profit climbed 25 percent to a record $178.3 million because of higher sales of annuities, individual life, and employee benefit products. (Bloomberg)

P&G sales miss analysts' estimates


Procter & Gamble Co., the largest US consumer-goods maker, forecast full-year profit that trailed analysts' estimates on slowing US consumer spending and higher commodity expenses.

The shares fell the most in eight months even as the company reported a 14 percent increase in first-quarter profit.

Sales rose 7.5 percent to $20.2 billion, missing analysts' estimates of $20.3 billion, the maker of Tide laundry detergent said. A weaker dollar accounted for 3 percentage points of the increase.

"People were setting up for a better quarter because of the tailwind from the weaker dollar," said Walter Todd, a principal in Greenwood Capital Associates LLC which owns 186,000 P&G shares. "It was mildly disappointing."

P&G, which gets 58 percent of revenue overseas, has expanded sales of the Gillette Fusion razor in Russia and Pampers diapers in India to counter slowing growth in the United States, where spending has weakened in the face of higher food, fuel, and housing costs.

Net income climbed to $3.08 billion, or 92 cents a share, compared with $2.7 billion, or 79 cents, a year earlier, Cincinnati-based P&G said. (Bloomberg)

DreamWorks' profit quadruples


The animated sequel "Shrek The Third" helped DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. quadruple its third-quarter profit, as the film neared $800 million in worldwide revenue, the company said.

Net income was $47 million, or 47 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $10.5 million, or 10 cents per share, for the same period last year.

Revenue nearly tripled to $160.8 million, compared with $55.6 million in the year-ago period.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 44 cents per share on revenue of $166.6 million. (AP)

Avon's overseas sales rings bell


Avon Products Inc., the world's largest door-to-door cosmetics seller, said third-quarter profit rose more than analysts estimated on purchases by overseas customers, causing the stock to jump the most in eight months.

Net income climbed 61 percent to $139.1 million, or 32 cents a share, New York-based Avon said, beating the average estimate of analysts by 1 cent. Sales rose 14 percent to $2.35 billion, the biggest gain in three years.

Half of Avon's top 14 markets posted sales increases of at least 20 percent, as chief executive Andrea Jung's expansion overseas countered slowing US growth. Revenue was helped by a 44 percent increase in advertising, suggesting Jung's use of savings from a restructuring to boost marketing and incentives to the sales force is paying off.

The dollar's decline helped boost profit outside the United States 6 percentage points. (Bloomberg)

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