NEW YORK (AP)_ Bristol-Myers Squibb on Wednesday posted a stronger-than-expected 15 percent rise in first quarter profits, citing robust sales for its cancer and diabetes drugs.

Bristol, the world's fourth largest drugmaker, earned $1.1 billion or 54 cents per share in the first quarter, up from $927 million or 47 cents a share in the same period a year ago. Results beat analysts' estimates by 2 cents a share, according to First Call Corp.

Sales rose 9 percent to $4.9 billion from $4.4 billion.

Wall Street welcomed the report by bidding the company's stock higher. It was up $3.50 at $62.75 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

Global pharmaceutical sales rose 15 percent to $3.4 billion in the quarter, including 21 percent sales growth in the United States. International sales rose just 5 percent as a result of the economic downturn in Brazil and Mexico.

Pravachol, Bristol's top-selling drug, had a 9 percent increase in sales to $486 million. Pravachol is the world's third largest-selling cholesterol-lowering medication, and has about 16 percent of the market.

Taxol, a breast and lung cancer drug, posted a 31 percent jump in sales to $329 million. Glucophage, the leading oral drug for non-insulin dependent diabetes, had a 55 percent increase in sales to $282 million.

Bristol's beauty care sales rose by 7 percent to $572 million, benefiting from the introduction of Herbal Essences shampoo overseas last year. Sales of Herbal Essences, the second-biggest selling shampoo in the U.S. market, rose 28 percent to $164 million.

Bristol's nutritional sales growth remained flat at about $449 million. Nutritional sales include Enfamil infant formula and the nutritional supplement drink Boost.

The company said it plans to seek U.S. approval later this year for its new hypertension drug. Bristol has two drugs, an antibiotic and a colorectal cancer medication, awaiting U.S. approval.