Drug maker Pfizer (PFE) reported first-quarter earnings of $0.25 a share, modestly above our $0.21 estimate but well below the year-earlier tally of $0.41. Revenue came in at $16.75 billion, largely thanks to solid sales of some of its highly-touted drugs, namely Lipitor and Lyrica. Still, results were weighed down a bit by expenses associated with the Wyeth acquisition. (Note that our figures include Wyeth from the fourth quarter of 2009 onward.)

At the same time, fellow pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. (MRK) also released first-quarter earnings that came in above expectations. The company registered share net of $0.83 (excluding one-time items) in the term, versus our estimate of $0.80 and the year-earlier figure of $0.72. Worldwide sales grew to $11.4 billion, well ahead of last-year's total of $5.385 billion, bolstered by strong contributions from the newly acquired Schering-Plough pipeline. Management indicated the post-merger integration was progressing smoothly.

The pair aim to realize significant cost savings over the next few years following their recent respective acquisitions. Merck looks to achieve savings of around $3.5 billion annually by 2012, while Pfizer is hoping to top that number, shedding $4 billion to $5 billion a year over the same time frame.
For 2010, we have left our bottom-line estimates for Pfizer and Merck untouched. Indeed, for the full year Pfizer appears headed for share net of $1.05, while Merck should earn $3.35.

Investors seemed mildly pleased with the results, as both stocks inched up a bit on the news.