Actelion Boosts Year Profit Forecast Aided by New Medicine

Swiss drugmaker Actelion Ltd. raised its 2015 earnings forecast, buoyed by sales of Opsumit, the company’s new drug for a rare lung disease.

A profit measure known as core earnings, which excludes some costs, will grow by more than 20 percent assuming that there is no fluctuation in currency exchange rates, Actelion said in a statement on Tuesday. In July, it predicted earnings would rise by a mid-to high-teen percentage this year.

Actelion is looking to broaden its sources of revenue as the pulmonary hypertension drug Tracleer, which generated three-quarters of revenue in 2014, loses patent protection. Co-founded in 1997 by Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Clozel, the drugmaker has held talks in recent months to buy ZS Pharma Inc. amid speculation that Actelion itself may a takeover target.

The raised forecast is “justified from a company which has consistently delivered strong results this year,” Klara Fernandes, an analyst at Berenberg Bank in London, wrote in a note to clients.

Actelion shares jumped 3.4 percent to 129.40 Swiss francs as of 9:32 a.m. local time. The stock has gained 26 percent over the past year.

A generic version of Tracleer is likely to be sold by competitors in the U.S. starting from the first quarter, Clozel said in an interview on Tuesday. Sales of the company’s own drug will benefit in the meantime, he said.

Beats Estimates

Core earnings for the quarter rose 13 percent on a constant exchange rate basis to 228 million Swiss francs ($234 million), the Allschwil, Switzerland-based company said. That exceeded the 200 million-franc average of seven analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales for the third quarter rose 6 percent at constant exchange rates to 514 million francs. Sales of Opsumit continue to grow, increasing to 147 million francs in the quarter.

The company said it will return 808 million francs to shareholders via share repurchases and dividends.

Buying ZS Pharma would give Actelion a treatment called ZS-9 for a rare but life-threatening condition known as hyperkalemia. The medicine was submitted for U.S. regulatory approval in May, and ZS Pharma’s stock has more than doubled since the company’s initial public offering last year.

Core earnings include product sales minus some costs. The measure doesn’t include contract revenue or expenses such as depreciation or stock-based compensation. Actelion has said the figure more accurately reflects its underlying performance.

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