Merck KGaA expects flat sales in 2019 as currency headwinds hit growth

Headline results for the fourth quarter:

 

Healthcare sales

1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion)

+3.6%

Revenue

3.9 billion euros ($4.4 billion)

+6.6%

Profit

2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion)

Versus 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion)

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

What the company said:

CEO Stefan Oschmann noted that "2018 was a year of transition and investment," adding "we achieved solid results in a dynamic market environment and achieved the financial targets we had set for ourselves."

Other results:

  • Rebif: 344.3 million euros ($390 million), down 9.7 percent, due to competition in the US and Europe
  • Erbitux: 201.7 million euros ($228 million), down 6.3 percent, reflecting ongoing competition and price pressure in major markets, partially offset by volume growth in China
  • Gonal-f: 175.5 million euros ($199 million), up 2.5 percent, with double-digit organic growth rates in the North America region
  • Life Sciences: 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion), up 8.8 percent
  • Full-year Mavenclad sales: 90 million euros ($102 million), up from 5 million euros ($6 million) in the prior year
  • Full-year Bavencio sales: 69 million euros ($78 million), up from 21 million euros ($24 million) in the prior year
  • Full-year healthcare sales: 6.2 billion euros ($7 billion), up 0.9 percent
  • Full-year revenue: 14.8 billion euros ($16.7 billion), up 2.2 percent
  • Full-year profit: 3.4 billion euros ($3.8 billion), up 29.5 percent

Looking ahead:

Merck expects overall sales to show "moderate organic growth" this year, although the company indicated that revenue will be stable versus 2018 due to currency effects weighing down results by 1 percent to 2 percent. The drugmaker indicated that the guidance assumes that the multiple sclerosis drug Mavenclad will gain approval in the US, where a resubmission was accepted for review by the FDA last year.

Meanwhile, Merck said it forecasts "a pronounced organic percentage growth in the low teens range" for earnings, with foreign exchange movements lowering this be between 3 percent and 4 percent compared to last year.

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