Sales of Bayer's prescription drugs edge higher in Q4, led by key growth products, China

Headline results for the fourth quarter:

Prescription drug sales

4.3 billion euros ($4.9 billion)

+1.8%

Revenue

11.1 billion euros ($12.6 billion; forecasts of 10.7 billion euros)

+28.7%

Loss

3.9 billion euros ($4.4 billion)

Versus profit of 148 million euros ($169 million)

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"In 2018, we were again able to increase sales and earnings, despite encountering a challenging market and currency environment," CEO Werner Baumann remarked, noting that the performance in the prescription drug segment "was mainly due to substantial growth in China and the continued strong performance of our key growth products overall."

The company noted that the fourth-quarter loss was due in part to impairment charges of around 3.3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) related to a restructuring effort announced last November leading to the elimination of around 12 000 jobs, including roughly 1250 from its pharmaceutical division. Bayer also highlighted costs associated with the acquisition of Monsanto.

Other results:

  • Sales of key growth products: 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion), up 10.9 percent
    • Xarelto: 993 million euros ($1.1 billion), up 8.6 percent, mainly due to higher volumes in Europe, China and Canada
    • Eylea: 600 million euros ($683 million), up 18.3 percent, boosted by higher volumes in Europe, Japan and Canada
    • Adempas: 96 million euros ($109 million), up 33.3 percent, lifted by expanded volumes in the US
    • Stivarga: 86 million euros ($98 million), up 7.5 percent, with growth mainly in China and Japan, partially offset by lower sales in the US due to a "highly competitive market environment"
    • Xofigo: 81 million euros ($92 million), down 19.8 percent, with "lower demand" in the US and Europe
  • Kogenate: 216 million euros ($246 million), down 0.5 percent, hit by the discontinuation of a distribution agreement
  • Nexavar: 177 million euros ($202 million), down 13.2 percent, due to "strong competitive pressure" in the US and Japan
  • Betaferon/Betaseron: 139 million euros ($158 million), down 8.6 percent, also negatively affected by the "competitive market environment" in the US
  • Consumer health sales: 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion), down 4.9 percent
  • Full-year prescription drug sales: 16.7 billion euros ($19 billion), down 0.6 percent
  • Full-year revenue: 39.6 billion euros ($45.1 billion), up 13.1 percent
  • Full-year profit: 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion), down 76.9 percent

Looking ahead:

Bayer confirmed its outlook for 2019, which was issued in December, with sales expected to be around 46 billion euros ($52.4 billion), representing growth of around 4 percent. Meanwhile, earnings are still predicted to reach approximately 12.2 billion euros ($13.9 billion).

Pipeline update:

Bayer disclosed that in December last year it halted development of the chymase inhibitor fulacimstat, also known as BAY 1142524, in left ventricular dysfunction after myocardial infarction following the failure of a Phase II study. The company noted that development of the chymase inhibitor in chronic kidney disease will continue unchanged.

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