* Eludes drop in U.S. Xarelto sales suffered by J&J
* Q4 adj EBITDA up 15 pct at 3.9 bln eur vs 3.6 bln poll avg
* Lifts FY profit guidance, citing Covestro performance
* Shares up 3 percent to 11 month high
(Adds detail on Xarelto, shares, analyst comment)
By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT, April 27 Bayer raised its
annual core earnings forecast on Thursday after beating
expectations with a 15 percent quarterly advance helped by
plastics unit Covestro and sales of stroke-prevention pill
Xarelto in Europe and Japan.
Analysts had expected a worse result for Xarelto, a key drug
for Bayer, after partner Johnson & Johnson, which owns
the U.S. rights, reported a near 10 percent drop in sales for
the drug hit by discounting.
Bayer's quarterly sales of Xarelto, prescribed to prevent
potentially deadly blood clotting, climbed by about 20 percent
to 751 million euros ($819 million), Bayer said.
"Our key growth products were once again especially
successful," Bayer said in a statement, also citing
contraceptive Mirena, eye medicine Eylea and cancer drugs Xofigo
Bayer shares rose 3 percent to an 11-month high, topping the
German blue-chip DAX, which was flat.
On top of rivalry from competing blood thinners, J&J's U.S.
sales were dragged down by discounts granted to patients to
offset reimbursement gaps in the U.S. government's Medicare
programme. J&J pays up to 30 percent in royalties to Bayer.
Xarelto competes mainly with Eliquis from Pfizer and
Bristol-Myers Squibb as well as with Pradaxa from
"Xarelto was better than many had expected following weak
U.S. number from J&J last week," Bernstein analysts wrote in a
note, reiterating their "outperform" rating on the stock. "Bayer
beat expectations for all divisions."
Adjusted group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation
and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 15 percent to 3.9 billion euros
($4.2 billion), topping the 3.6 billion forecast by analysts in
a Reuters poll.
Bayer said it now expected group EBITDA before special items
to improve by a "low-teens percentage", up from a medium
single-digit percentage gain seen previously.
It pointed to a brighter outlook for its plastics and
chemicals subsidiary Covestro, which reported earnings on
Bayer also announced that its Chief Financial Officer
Johannes Dietsch will leave the company at his own request in
May 2018, after helping the German drugs and pesticides maker
conclude its planned $66 billion acquisition of U.S. seeds giant
Monsanto by the end of this year.
($1 = 0.9168 euros)
(Editing by Georgina Prodhan and Jason Neely)