Bayer sets big targets for 2015

Bayer will need a stellar performance from its growth products this year, as it is predicting a €4 billion increase in group sales to €46 billion in 2015.

The company is also predicting a “substantial increase” in earnings this year despite a €300 million increase in R&D spending to €4 billion, required to bring a number of late-stage pipeline projects through to fruition.

Group sales rose 7 per cent to €11 billion in the fourth quarter, well ahead of forecasts and led by the pharmaceuticals division, although net profit plunged 51 per cent to €224 million on higher R&D and selling costs and expenses related to the $14 billion acquisition of Merck & Co’s consumer health business.

For the full year, sales rose 7 per cent to €42 billion – in line with guidance – with a 7 per cent increase in earnings per share (EPS) also meeting expectations.

Bayer’s crop of five growth products – anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban), eye drug Eylea (aflibercept), cancer therapies Stivarga (regorafenib) and Xofigo (radium 223) and pulmonary hypertension treatment Adempas (riociguat) – brought in €2.9 billion last year, around €100 million ahead of expectations.

Xarelto brought in €1.7 billion of that total and now has a 32 per cent share of the global anticoagulant market, said Bayer chief executive Marijn Dekkers, which is eight points up on the prior year.

Meanwhile eye drug Eylea had a phenomenal year with sales more than doubling to €759 million, above its forecast of €700 million. Colorectal cancer therapy Stivarga posted a 17 per cent increase to €224 million as it continued to roll out in new markets, although radiopharmaceutical Xofigo for prostate cancer missed its targets because of production issues, adding €157 million to the pot.

Bayer expects Xofigo to double that figure this year and reach €1 billion in 2018, provided it can add new indications in breast cancer and longer-term prostate cancer treatment.

Bayer’s newest product – Merck & Co-partnered Adempas – got off to a good start with Bayer pocketing €89 million in sales last year.

“These products have played a crucial role in making us one of the fastest-growing large companies in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Dekkers.

With Bayer’s head of healthcare Olivier Brandicourt heading for the chief executive job at Sanofi in April, Dekkers was understandably reluctant to provide too much detail on plans for the division going forward, but promised plenty of information at Bayer’s Meet Management meeting in Berlin next month.

Dekkers also reiterated the intention to spin out the plastics and chemicals unit Bayer MaterialScience via a separate stock exchange listing in 2016 but said the company would also be open to a “convincing offer” to purchase the division outright, although this could be complicated by antitrust issues.

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