Bayer Faces Profit Drain on Several Fronts
As it continues to pursue plans to take over US agribusiness rival Monsanto, Germany’s Bayer said it will lower its full-year 2017 earnings forecast due to weakness in its consumer health business and unexpectedly high stockpiling of its crop-protection products in Brazil. Unfavorable currency exchange movements were also cited. The new projections will be published simultaneously with Q2 results on Jul. 27.
Explaining the earnings constraints, Bayer said regular stocktaking at the end of the harvest season in Brazil revealed an “unexpectedly high” channel inventory level of crop protection products. Without being specific, it added that it plans to work with customers to “initiate measures aimed at normalizing the situation,” beginning in the second quarter. These measures are expected to have a one-time effect of €300-400 million on full-year EBITDA before special items.
The consumer-health division, which Bayer beefed up considerably with the 2014 purchase of US Merck’s portfolio for $14.2 billion, is not performing as well as expected, the group said, without providing details. Pharmaceuticals and Covestro, the engineering plastics business floated in October 2015, continue to “perform strongly.”
Commenting on the Bayer woes, Bernstein analyst Jeremy Redenius said in a note to clients that problems with the consumer unit, which is struggling through a US slowdown, are ”relatively small” compared with the hit CropScience earnings could take. The analyst noted that Bayer is “reinvesting heavily” in turnarounds for brands Dr. Scholl’s and Coppertone.
In April, Bayer raised its guidance for 2017, saying earnings before special items would likely rise by a low double-digit percentage and sales reach a record €51 billion.
In separate news, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said Bayer and Monsanto plan to submit regulatory filings for their planned merger with the EU shortly.