Actelion Raises Forecast as First-Quarter Beats Estimates

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Actelion Ltd., the Swiss drugmaker of treatments for a rare lung disease, increased its full-year forecast after reporting first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates on sales of its newest drug.

Core earnings will grow by a low double-digit percentage this year, excluding currency swings and U.S. rebate reversals, Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion said in a statement on Tuesday. The company in February predicted profit growth by a low single-digit percentage.

Tracleer, the lung drug that was the source of three-quarters of Actelion’s 2014 product sales, loses patent protection this year. Opsumit, which the company has developed as a successor drug in treating pulmonary arterial hypertension, generated 95 million Swiss francs ($99 million) in first-quarter revenue, more than the average analyst estimate of 78 million francs.

“It’s maybe going better than we were expecting,” Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Clozel said in a telephone interview. “My biggest surprise is every single country where it is launched it’s a success. That’s sometimes not so frequent.”

Actelion rose as much as 6 percent in Zurich and traded 5.5 percent higher at 123.3 Swiss francs as of 9:19 a.m. The stock has gained 46 percent in the past 12 months, including reinvested dividends, compared with a 15 percent advance in the Swiss Market Index.

‘Not Desperate’

There are signs the uptake of Opsumit is accelerating. More than 1,500 patients started treatment with the drug during the first quarter, compared with an average of 1,300 a quarter since it was approved in October 2013, Chief Financial Officer Andre Muller said by phone.

First-quarter core earnings at Actelion gained 15 percent to 218 million francs, exceeding the 188.7 million-franc average of six analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Tracleer’s sales dropped 7 percent to 344 million francs.

Actelion will do deals if it finds the right acquisition opportunities at the right price, but is “not in desperate need like some companies,” Clozel said.

“We are not obliged to do M&A, and therefore we have the choice to pay the right price,” he said. “Some prices in our mind are excessive and do not make sense financially. Therefore we can be disciplined.”

Actelion said last week it plans to develop products to treat immune disorders, such as the multiple sclerosis drug ponesimod. The company is trying to reduce its reliance on treatments for pulmonary arterial hypertension, which account for almost all of its sales.

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