Tax gain lifts drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen to 1Q profit, but it misses sales forecast

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TRENTON, New Jersey — AmerisourceBergen Corp. swung to a profit in its fiscal first quarter, thanks to a huge income tax benefit. The medicine wholesaler reported a loss in the same period a year earlier. Its latest results beat Wall Street profit expectations but fell short on revenue.

The company, based in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, is one of the top U.S. distributors of prescription drugs.

A $541 million tax benefit enabled the company to post net income of $330.4 million, or $1.46 per share, in the October-December quarter. In the same period in 2014, the company reported a loss of $200 million, or 90 cents per share.

Earnings adjusted for non-recurring items came to $292 million, or $1.27 per share. Analysts expected $1.25 per share.

Its operating loss doubled to about $180 million due to higher expenses for sales, distribution, administration and other items.

Revenue rose 9.3 percent to $36.71 billion, but that was less than the $36.84 billion that analysts expected. Costs for the medicines the company distributes to pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes and other customers also rose 9 percent, to $35.7 billion.

Steven H. Collis, president and CEO, said in a statement that two recent acquisitions, MWI Veterinary Supply and PharMEDium, plus "strong contributions from our specialty business and our international businesses, helped overcome a challenging year-over-year comparison and a sharper-than-expected decline in generic inflation."

For its 2016 fiscal year, the company forecast earnings in the range of $5.73 to $5.83 per share, and revenue growth of 8 percent to 10 percent.

In afternoon trading, AmerisourceBergen shares fell $3.37, or 3.8 percent, to $84.62. Its shares are down almost 12 percent over the past year.

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research.

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