Rising sales of cancer drugs Yervoy and Sprycel helped propel Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to fourth-quarter results that beat analyst expectations, though earnings formally lag behind the year-ago number.

BMS finished Q4 2013 with net earnings of $726 million, a 21.5% decrease from $925 million in the final three months of 2012. The Q3 2012 numbers included a $392 million tax benefit—a deduction for capital loss—resulting from the company’s $2.5 billion acquisition of Inhibitex that year.

Revenues rose about 6% in Q4 compared with a year earlier, to $4.44 billion. Analysts expected revenues of $4.31 billion and earnings of 43 cents a share, versus the actual 44 cents, Fox Business reported.

Bright spots for BMS were the sales increases recorded by several of its drugs. Sprycel sales jumped 30% to $365 million, Yervoy rose 23% to $260 million, and the anti-inflammatory treatment Orencia generated 22% more in sales than Q4 2012, climbing to $397 million.

Sprycel reported positive follow-up Phase III DASISION study data in December at the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting. At four years, 76% of Sprycel patients versus 63% of imatinib patients achieved a major molecular response, while at three months, 84% of Sprycel patients versus 64% of imatinib patients achieved an optimal molecular response, which translated into improved overall survival compared to those who did not.

Yervoy was helped in November, when the European Commission approved an expanded indication for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced (unresectable or metastatic) melanoma. The expanded indication applies to all 28 European Union member states as well as Iceland and Norway.

The biggest gains were recorded by Nulojix, which prevents rejection in adult kidney transplant patients, and whose sales doubled to $8 million; the blood thinner Plavix ($81 million, up 65%); and the diabetes drug Bydureon ($93 million, up 60%), which BMS inherited when it acquired Amilyn in 2012 for $5.3 billion.

However, sales of two drugs designed by BMS as “key” slipped during the quarter. Hypertension drug Avapro/Avalide led the losers with $58 million, down 31% from a year earlier, while the antipsychotic drug Abilify, whose patent expires next year, racked up $635 million, a 22% drop from Q4 2012.

Spending on R&D also fell in Q4, down 12% to $957 million.

For all of 2013, net earnings attributable to BMS rose 3% to nearly $2.6 billion, despite a 7% decline in total revenues to $16.4 billion. R&D spending fell 4.4%, to $3.7 billion.

Yervoy led all drugs in sales gains during last year, jumping 36% from 2012 to $960 million, followed by Sprycel (up 26%, to 1.28 billion) and metabolic drug Onglyza/Kombiglyze (up 24%, to $877 million).

But BMS saw several drugs lose sales in 2013, led by Plavix, whose patent expired in 2012. Plavix sales, which peaked at about $7.1 billion in 2011, cratered 90% in 2013 to $258 million from $2.5 billion a year earlier. Other losers last year included Avapro/Avalide (down 54%, to $231 million) and Abilify (down 19% to almost $2.3 billion).

“We are looking forward to 2014 as an important year to advance our specialty care BioPharma model and deliver on key opportunities in immuno-oncology and hepatitis C that will position us well for long-term growth,” BMS CEO  Lamberto Andreotti said in a statement.

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