Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. reported on Thursday its net first quarter profit dropped 4.2 percent.

Earnings were $661 million or 33 cents per share, compared to $690 million or 35 cents per share in the same period in 2007. Excluding costs the company earned 42 cents per share matching analysts' expectations, according to Reuters Estimates.

Our medicines are performing well, as was evident this quarter, and our pipeline is steadily advancing. This is good news for patients and healthcare professionals who count on us, as well as shareholders who invest in us, said Bristol-Myers' Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James M. Cornelius, in a statement.

Company revenue rose 20 percent to $5.18 billion, matching expectations of $5.11 billion according to Reuters Estimates. The group's profit benefited from sales of the drug Plavix, for preventing blood clots. A ruling from a federal court determined that a generic version of Plavix manufactured by the Canadian company Apotex would be removed from the U.S. market.

Sales of Plavix - which is Bristol's top selling drug - sold in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis, increased 39 percent to $1.31 billion compared to the same period in the previous year, when sales diminished as the generic rival was available in the market.

Sales of its drugs for schizophrenia, Abilify; AIDS, Sustiva; Rheumatoid arthritis, Orencia; Hepatitis B, Baraclude; and cancer, Erbitux increased in double digit percentages.

The drug maker said it is planning to offer shares worth near 10 percent but not more than 20 percent of its Mead Johnson business by the end of 2008. The unit has annual sales of more than $2.5 billion.

Bristol confirmed its 2008 expectations for earnings of $1.60 to $1.70 a share excluding items which is in line with analysts' forecasts, excluding items, of $1.70 a share, on revenue of $21.52 billion.