Actelion Rises to 2-Year High as Company May Raise Forecast

Actelion Ltd., the Swiss drugmaker that gets most of its sales from one drug, rose to the highest in more than two years after saying it may raise its full-year forecast and reporting first-quarter profit that beat estimates.

Actelion climbed 3.7 percent to 54.30 Swiss francs in Zurich, the highest since February 2011. The stock has climbed 65 percent in the past year including reinvested dividends, compared with a 30 percent gain in the benchmark Swiss Market Index.

Operating profit jumped to 124 million francs ($133 million) from 67.1 million francs a year earlier, Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion said in a statement today. Analysts forecast operating income of 92 million francs, the average of nine estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company has promised investors it will maximize profitability while it develops drugs such as Opsumit, a successor to the Tracleer medicine that accounts for 87 percent of sales and starts to lose patent protection in 2016. The company forecast in February that 2013 “core” profit excluding currency shifts will be at the same level as last year, with single-digit growth in 2014 and double-digit growth by 2015.

“We will carefully look at guidance for the full year as it is possible that some of the forecasted profit growth for 2014 could be brought forward into this year,” Chief Financial Officer Andrew Oakley said in the statement.

New Drugs

Actelion applied for U.S. regulatory approval of Opsumit in October, and has said it expects to start selling the drug this year. The company expects an interim analysis from a trial of another drug, selexipag, in the coming weeks, though the most likely outcome is that the commitee monitoring the study will recommend that it continues, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Clozel said on a call with analysts today.

The company cut spending on research and development by almost 30 percent and reduced selling, general and administrative costs by 10 percent, boosting earnings per share to 85 centimes, compared with the average analyst estimate of 61 centimes.

“The cost-saving program continues to go beyond market expectations,” Adrian Howd, an analyst at Berenberg Bank in London, wrote in a note today. “We see potential for significant upgrades to medium-term consensus estimates.”

Sales of Tracleer rose 3 percent to 375 million francs, helped by the timing of orders from wholesalers, boosting total revenue to 433.2 million francs, ahead of the average analyst estimate of 409.1 million francs.

Positive Territory

The sales trend for the first quarter shouldn’t be extrapolated for the full year, Clozel said, though revenue should end in “positive territory,” Oakley said. Analysts had expected sales to decline this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tracleer, Opsumit and selexipag are all designed to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, an incurable disease characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. It affects between one in 100,000 and one in 1 million people, according to the American Lung Association.

Actelion said it expects to complete an 800 million-franc share buyback this year.

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