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Actelion Stock Jumps on Increase in 2012 Profit Forecast

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- Actelion Ltd., the Swiss maker of the Tracleer blood-pressure drug, climbed to a 13-month high after the company raised its profit forecast for 2012 because of reduced spending and second-quarter revenue that beat estimates.

Actelion jumped 5.7 percent to 43.60 Swiss francs in Zurich, the highest since June 9, 2011, and the biggest gain since April 30.

Core earnings, or sales minus cash operating expenses and excluding currency effects, will rise in a “mid single-digit” percentage range, Allschwil-based Actelion said in a statement today. The drugmaker had previously said earnings would remain unchanged from 2011. The company reiterated that sales will probably fall by a low single-digit percentage.

Actelion is betting on macitentan, its successor to Tracleer, to revive sales when the older drug loses patent protection in 2015. The company said in April that macitentan succeeded in a late-stage study, fueling speculation that the company may become a takeover target. Actelion is cutting research costs, and outlined plans on July 12 to cut as many as 135 jobs, or 5.3 percent of its workforce.

“It’s a little premature” to quantify cost savings as “the process of consultation with our employees has only just started,” Chief Financial Officer Andrew Oakley said in a telephone interview today.

As many as 115 of the positions cut will be at the headquarters in Allschwil, said Roland Haefeli, a spokesman.

Outpacing Industry

Actelion stock has gained 32 percent, including reinvested dividends, since announcing results of the macitentan trial, outpacing a 10 percent advance in the 19-company Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceuticals Index.

Second-quarter sales rose 1.3 percent to 447.5 million Swiss francs ($458 million) from 441.7 million francs a year earlier, Actelion said. Analysts were predicting revenue would decline to 436.2 million francs, the average of 10 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company collected more than 100 million francs in late bills from southern European countries, particularly from Spain, Oakley said. Some governments in the region have been holding off on paying health-care suppliers amid the sovereign-debt crisis.

“It’s still a very challenging environment moving forward,” Oakley said. “We’re working as much as we can. We’ve had a couple of small factoring transactions in Italy in the first half,” and “we’re in constant contact with the hospitals that do owe us money.”

Tracleer Revenue

Second-quarter revenue from Tracleer rose 0.2 percent to 388.7 million francs, according to Bloomberg calculations subtracting first-quarter from six-month figures. Actelion said first-half sales of the drug, which accounts for 87 percent of the total, have declined 4.7 percent this year because it’s losing market share to Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Letairis, and has had the treatment’s price cut in Europe.

Tracleer and macitentan are designed to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, in which the arteries that move blood from the heart to the lungs narrow, making the heart work harder and causing elevated blood pressure.

Actelion plans to apply for regulatory approval of macitentan in the fourth quarter in both the U.S. and Europe, Oakley said.

Actelion “continues to look” at potential partnerships to grow in rare diseases and specialty pharmaceuticals, Oakley said, declining to elaborate. Discussions also are “on going” to reach a partnership for Actelion’s ponesimod experimental multiple sclerosis and psoriasis treatment, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Albertina Torsoli in Paris at atorsoli@bloomberg.net; Simeon Bennett in Geneva at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Lavell at tlavell@bloomberg.net; Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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