Bayer Profit Barely Rises as Plastics Offset New Drugs

Bayer AG’s first-quarter profit fell short of analysts’ estimates as a crop of new medicines struggled to offset lagging older drugs and plunging earnings at the plastics unit.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and special items increased 0.4 percent to 2.45 billion euros ($3.2 billion), the Leverkusen, Germany-based company said in a statement today. That missed the 2.55 billion-euro average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

New drugs to ward off blood clots and fight eye disease and cancer contributed last quarter, Bayer said. The company has signaled it will rely on its health and crop chemicals units for growth as the plastics division contends with rising raw material prices. But some of the quarter’s miss came from within the health unit as older drugs such as the birth-control pill Yasmin and the multiple sclerosis treatment Betaseron disappointed, said Odile Rundquist, an analyst for Helvea SA.

“They missed expectations,” Rundquist said in a telephone interview. Relative newcomers such as Xarelto, designed to block blood clots, eye drug Eylea and cancer medicine Stivarga “all did well,” the Geneva-based analyst said. She rates Bayer’s shares accumulate.

Bayer rose 0.1 percent to close at 80.70 euros in Frankfurt. The stock has gained 12 percent this year, placing it among one of the five worst performers in the Bloomberg index that tracks 18 European drugmakers. Last year, it was the best performer among the world’s 10 largest drugmakers.

Execution Phase

Bayer said its full-year group forecast still stands. The company has said sales will probably increase 4 percent to 5 percent in 2013.

First-quarter sales rose 2.1 percent to 10.27 billion euros. Sales at the plastics unit, known as MaterialScience, were little changed and Ebitda before special items plunged 27 percent. By that measure profit will probably show no change at the unit this year, Bayer said, trimming an earlier forecast.

Meanwhile, sales at Bayer’s agricultural unit, CropScience, climbed 5.9 percent to 2.76 billion euros. Health-care revenue increased 2.3 percent to 4.4 billion euros.

Five new pharmaceutical products will contribute more than 2.5 billion euros to sales in 2015, Bayer said in February.

“Following a period of unprecedented clinical success for all of Bayer’s key new products, we now enter the execution phase,” Tim Race and Mark Clark, analysts for Deutsche Bank AG in London, wrote in a note on April 18. They rate Bayer’s shares a buy.

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