Pfizer Earnings Down 52%

Pfizer, the world's biggest drug company, said third-quarter profit fell 52 percent and that sluggish revenue growth drove it to cut profit estimates for this year. Its share price dropped more than 8 percent to close at $21.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The maker of top-selling anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor said its profit fell to $1.59 billion from $3.34 billion in the comparable period last year, mainly because of charges related to its acquisition of Vicuron Pharmaceuticals and implementation of a cost-savings plan. Revenue fell 5 percent, to $12.19 billion.

Pfizer has struggled with the loss of patent protection on key drugs, faltering sales of its pain reliever Celebrex, the withdrawal of pain reliever Bextra, sluggish demand for impotence drugs like its Viagra and an overall competitive market for medicines.


Parts Supplier Dana Downsizes

Dana, the biggest U.S. maker of light-truck axles, will sell three units, close two factories and cut 5 percent of salaried jobs to raise money and cut debt after posting losses or lower profit for four straight quarters.

The Toledo company said it will report a "significant" loss this year. Its workforce will shrink by 9,800 through the sale of three business units and the elimination of 645 jobs through plant closures and sales.

Increases in wages and health care costs are outpacing Dana's revenue growth. Dana's employee benefit plans will be changed with an increase in the amount of money workers will have to pay for health care.


Fund to Sue Former Refco CEO

Liberty Corner Capital Strategies, a hedge fund involved in loan transactions with Refco, said it plans to sue the futures broker and its former chief executive, Phillip R. Bennett. The suit would focus on damages caused by deception alleged in a federal criminal complaint against Bennett, Liberty Corner said.

Liberty Corner's principal, Terry Pigott, thought his firm was helping conduct deals between two Refco entities, with the parent, Refco Group, indemnifying the transaction, the fund said. Instead, Liberty Corner alleges, one party was a company controlled by Bennett, who was using the loans to hide $430 million he owed Refco.

Refco filed for bankruptcy protection Oct. 17. Bennett was charged last week with securities fraud for allegedly misleading investors who bought shares in Refco's August initial public offering.


Storm-Linked Jobless Claims Slow

Forty thousand people filed claims for unemployment benefits last week because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, pushing the total who have lost jobs because of the storms to 478,000. The weekly increase in hurricane-related claims was down sharply from a rise of 75,000 two weeks ago, evidence that the wave of unemployment caused by the storms might finally be cresting.

Recipients of unemployment benefits numbered 2.89 million for the week ended Oct. 8, according to the Labor Department's weekly survey of claims. That was the highest reading in more than a year.


Union: Northwest Offer Can't Fly

The mechanics union for Northwest Airlines said it will not vote on the carrier's latest offer, saying the company inserted last-minute language that violates the union's constitution. In an update posted on the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association Web site, the union said the language added by Northwest was not addressed at a recent meeting between the two parties.

United Settles Creditor Objections

United Airlines told a bankruptcy judge that it resolved the major objections to its disclosure statement, clearing the way for approval of a key part of its bankruptcy exit plan. Judge Eugene Wedoff is expected to sign off on the plan as soon as today. The disclosure statement outlines how creditors will be paid and details how it intends to carry on after leaving Chapter 11 protection.

Coca-Cola said third-quarter profit increased 37 percent, to $1.28 billion from $935 million in the third quarter last year. The company attributed the growth to strong sales in China and Japan. Revenue rose 8 percent, to $6.04 billion.

Eli Lilly said third-quarter profit rose 5 percent, to $794.4 million, on strong sales of newer drugs and diabetes products. Revenue rose 10 percent, to $3.6 billion.

United Parcel Service said third-quarter profit rose as companies moved more goods by air and shipments from China increased 34 percent. Profit rose 7 percent, to $953 million. Sales rose 18 percent, to $10.55 billion.

McDonald's said third-quarter profit fell 6 percent to $735 million. The fast-food chain faced a difficult comparison against the third quarter of 2004, when it benefited from a hefty tax gain. Revenue rose 8 percent, to $5.33 billion. McDonald's has more than 30,000 restaurants worldwide.Compiled from staff and news service reports.

Sales of Lipitor rose 6 percent and accounted for $2.6 billion of Pfizer's third-quarter revenue.