Bayer Buoyed by Health and Agriculture in Q3

31.10.2014 -

Buoyed by a strong performance in its Healthcare and CropScience businesses in the third quarter, Bayer has raised its forecast for full year 2014. CEO Marijn Dekkers said he expects currency and portfolio-adjusted sales to increase by 6% against 2013 to around €41 billion, with EBITDA improvement likely to be in the "mid-single digit" range.

Pharmaceutical industry growth, Dekkers said, is expected to be "significantly higher" than in 2013, especially in the US. But despite a "persistently restrictive health policy environment," the German group expects higher growth in Europe, too, thanks to the launch of new products.

In Q3, Bayer group sales rose 7% to €10.2 billion and EBITDA before special items by 1% to €41 million. All segments except MaterialScience (BMS) where the absence of one-off gains depressed figures, saw earnings gains.

Speaking to journalists during a conference call, CEO, Marijn Dekker, insisted that despite the interest shown by private equity investors reported to be Advent, Carlyle, Cinven, CVC and KKR, Bayer is sticking by plans for a flotation of BMS by mid-2016 and not considering a sale of the business.

Although leaving open whether fresh acquisitions were on the agenda, particularly in consumer care, where he said more products mean better results, Dekkers suggested that Bayer might use proceeds from the sale of the plastics business to pay down debt.

In the run-up to year's end, the CEO said the group's confidence has been boosted by the "outstanding sales growth" of recently launched pharmaceutical products such as the anti-coagulant Xarelto, the wet macula degeneration treatment Eyelea, the colon cancer drug Stivarga, the prostate cancer therapeutic Xofigo and the pulmonary hypertension drug Adempas. Together, the five products had sales of €750 million in Q3, nearly double last year's quarterly figure.

Commenting on reports that Bayer has been dogged by US class action suits claiming dangerous side effects for Xarelto, chief financial officer Werner Baumann hinted that the complaints at present are not numerous and, moreover, too unspecific to be considered a threat.

The Consumer Health division, into which the portfolio recently acquired from US-based Merck & Co for $14 billion has now been integrated, improved its sales "slightly," driven by the Consumer Car and Animal Health units. Dekkers said business was impacted by higher selling costs.

Bayer's CropScience segment boomed in all regions, but negative currency translations ate into profit. To beef up its agriculture business, Bayer has agreed to purchase - for an undisclosed sum - certain land management assets owned by DuPont in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand and a range of related products in Mexico and Latin America.