5 Big Winners and Losers From Earnings Season: Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK), Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY)

While Bristol-Myers has pipeline power for the future, particularly with the FDA’s approval of blood thinner Eliquis at the end of last year, both these companies have their work cut out for them overcoming serious blows to sales from patent losses.

Big pharma’s big loser: AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN)
Finally, we arrive at the biggest blow to investors this earnings season: AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) . The company’s sales fell by 16% to $7.28 billion for the quarter, beating estimates but ending a poor year in which revenue plunged around 15% in all. It gets worse: Profit fell 8% for the quarter, still beating analyst projections, but the company’s net profit for the full year in 2012 dove by around 37%.

Compounding matters, AstraZeneca’s CEO doesn’t see relief in sight in 2013. Company Chief Executive Pascal Soriot predicted mid- to high-single digit percentage losses for revenue in 2013, with earnings falling “significantly  more.” Soriot announced that internal development would key future growth for AstraZeneca, but with the company facing a sharp patent cliff of its own — schizophrenia blockbuster Seroquel lost patent protection last March, while third-leading seller Nexium and cholesterol-fighting drug Crestor following in 2014 and 2016, respectively — AstraZeneca may need to make a move fast in order to shore up its future.

Soriot said a large acquisition isn’t likely, but with AstraZeneca’s future in doubt, he may be forced to shake up the establishment.

Turbulence ahead for big pharma
Pfizer shareholders should feel good about the future, but none of these five big pharma players are running off to the races just yet. Generic competition and patent expirations continue to take their toll, from the biggest names like Lipitor and Singulair to the sledgehammer of losses that are smashing AstraZeneca’s future. This earnings season has given investors a valuable look into the future of these companies — and it’s a future worth watching, with plenty of ups and downs on the way.

The article 5 Big Winners and Losers From Earnings Season originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Dan Carroll.

Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.