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Pfizer expects earnings decline

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, on Tuesday forecast a 6 percent decline in earnings this year as it launches a cost-cutting plan aimed at saving $4 billion over the next four years amid struggles with patent expirations and safety concerns over its popular pain-reliever Celebrex.

The company said its 2005 earnings are expected to be $2 a share, short of the average view of $2.13 per share from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Accounting for one-time items, full-year income is estimated at $1.16 per share.

Last year, Pfizer earned $11.36 billion, or $2.12 per share.

While the company anticipates trimming $4 billion in spending — about 12 percent of its costs — Pfizer said implementing the initiative will cost between $5 billion and $6 billion through 2008.

The $4 billion in cost cuts was above the minimum of $2 billion analysts were expecting the company to announce.

Pfizer shares rose 69 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $26.62 during premarket trading.

UAW says membership up

The United Auto Workers says its membership rose 30,072 in 2004, reversing a long decline that saw the union shrink from 1.5 million in the late 1970s to 624,585 in 2003.

The growth came in such areas as health care, government, auto parts and education as employment at the Big Three U.S. automakers and their largest suppliers shrank, the union said in its annual report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The UAW ended 2004 with membership up 4.8 percent to 654,657, the union said.

The growth came despite job losses at General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group.

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