Aspen Pharmacare Profit Gains on Sales in South Africa, Asia

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., Africa’s largest generic drugs manufacturer, said first-half earnings climbed 13 percent as sales increased in South Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Net income advanced to 1.7 billion rand ($184 million) in the six months through December, compared with 1.5 billion rand a year earlier, the Durban, South Africa-based company said today in a statement. Financing costs included a foreign-currency gain of 46.7 million rand as currencies in countries outside South Africa strengthened versus the rand.

Sales climbed 20 percent to 9 billion rand, including 3.4 billion rand from the Asia-Pacific region and 3.6 billion rand from South Africa, said Aspen. Profit from units outside its home market climbed to 63 percent of the total, compared with 61 percent a year earlier. The Asia-Pacific business is expected to replace South Africa as the group’s largest revenue generator by the end of the 2013 financial year, it said.

“We are opening sales offices in Malaysia and Taiwan in the next year and plan to set up sales infrastructure in Thailand, Indonesia and Japan as soon as possible,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Saad said in a phone interview. “We want to have our own presence in these countries, to speak to our own people.”

’Significant Savings’

The drugmaker, which is expanding its manufacturing sites in South Africa, expects to see “significant savings” in the next two years, Saad said.

Aspen, which supplies medicine in more than 150 countries, bought a portfolio of 25 pharmaceutical brands from GlaxoSmithKline Plc in a 2.2 billion-rand deal last year. It said last month it is in talks to buy Dutch manufacturing capacity and product lines from U.S. medicine maker Merck & Co.

The shares rose for a sixth day, adding 0.5 percent to close at 187 rand in Johannesburg. The company, which has gained 11 percent in the year to date, is trading at a 22-year high, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.