(Reuters) – Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N) reported better-than- expected quarterly results, helped by cost cuts and a higher estimate of royalties owed the company from sales of its Abilify schizophrenia treatment.

The U.S. drugmaker, whose shares rose 2 percent in premarket trading, on Tuesday said it earned $1.19 billion, or 71 cents per share, in the first quarter. That compared with $937 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, Bristol-Myers earned 71 cents per share, well above the average forecast of 51 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Results were helped by lower spending on marketing and advertising.

Company sales rose 6 percent to $4.04 billion, about $200 million above Wall Street expectations. They would have risen 13 percent if not for the stronger dollar, which lowers the value of sales abroad.

Bristol-Myers raised the lower end of its full-year 2015 profit forecast by five cents, to $1.60 per share, while keeping the higher end at $1.70.

Sales of Abilify rose 3 percent to $554 million, but would have been far lower if not for a recalculation of royalties Bristol-Myers receives from partner Otsuka Holdings Co Ltd (4578.T).

Under a longstanding marketing agreement that ended April 20, Bristol-Myers last year recorded sales of Abilify that reflected an estimated 33 percent royalty rate. But in the recent first quarter, Bristol-Myers recorded sales that reflected an actual 50 percent royalty.

For future earnings growth, Bristol-Myers is counting heavily on its new and experimental immuno-oncology drugs, which harness the immune system to fight cancer.

They include Yervoy, a leading treatment for melanoma whose sales rose 20 percent to $325 million in the quarter. The company’s recently approved Opdivo treatment for advanced melanoma and a form of lung cancer posted $40 million in sales, but is expected to eventually capture multi-billion dollar annual sales.


(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson Editing by W Simon)